Mexico healthcare is steadily improving. The country ranked fifty-first on the Legatum Institute’s Health Sub-Index out of 149 countries measured.
Mexico is a leading provider of medical tourism, a term that refers to foreigners who visit a country specifically to receive lower cost medical treatment. Since most of the doctors and dentists in Mexico are well trained and experienced, the practice is considered a cost effective alternative for those who require medical attention, but cannot afford it in the U.S. or other countries with high medical costs.
Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS) provides both Mexican citizens and expats legally residing in Mexico with medical insurance and healthcare services. Nearly two-thirds of the country is enrolled in the IMSS healthcare program. The service provides complete coverage, including prescriptions. Visit the IMSS website to see if you quality for the program.
An international health insurance plan may also be a good option. International plans typically provide the same core benefits as U.S. plans: outpatient/inpatient treatment, emergency room, wellness, doctor visits and prescription drug coverage. In addition, most international plans include benefits for emergency evacuations and repatriations. Importantly, with most international health insurance plans, if you are accepted into the plan prior to age 65, you will be able to renew your plan indefinitely. But if you join a plan after the age of 65, you will be covered only until age 75.
You can also purchase a local health insurance plan. Private carriers usually require citizenship, permanent residency or temporary residency in Mexico for a specific period of time for eligibility. This option, though, requires research to determine if the insurance agent or broker is reputable. You can check directly with the companies they are representing. Any reputable insurer or insurance company should be able to confirm or deny whether or not that person is a contracted representative for them. Also, verify the operations of the company involved. Most quality insurers are rated by the major ratings services, so you should be able to find out whether that insurer is really operating as advertised.
All good decisions begin with research. Find out which option and provider has the best combination of benefits and premium for you and your family. Determine how long they have been in business, the quality of their services, their ratings (both industry and consumer) and their references. References from other expats in Mexico are always a good place to start.
There are many international and local health insurance plans available for purchase in Mexico. Some of the major companies offering plans in the country are GNP Mexico, Monterrey, Royal and Sun Alliance, MetLife and DVK.
If you are retiring in Mexico, you should know that Medicare does not extend beyond U.S. borders. Expats have been actively trying to extend Medicare coverage to Mexico, but have not yet been successful.
The federal government and the private sector both own hospitals in Mexico. Federal hospitals are managed by the IMSS and are available to both Mexican citizens and expats who qualify.
Privately owned hospitals can vary greatly in quality, with the more poorly equipped located in rural areas. In urban areas, many offer the latest medical technologies and are staffed by well-trained doctors. These hospitals come with a high price that many Mexican residents cannot afford. Costs tend to be lower than American and Canadian private hospitals of similar caliber. Most private hospitals require payment upon release.
Mexico’s best hospitals and clinics are based in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Although English is common in most hospitals in large cities, check with your embassy in Mexico City or the consulate nearest you for a list of hospitals where English is spoken.
Medical services in Mexico are generally good and provided at a much lower cost than the U.S. and many other developed countries. Physicians who receive their education in Mexico go through a rigorous medical program, including four years of medical school, one year of internship and a hospital residency program. The Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG School of Medicine) has a renowned medical program that attracts students from many different countries, including the U.S. Many physicians who practice in Mexico have received training in the U.S. and other countries.
Check with your embassy in Mexico City or the consulate nearest you for a list of doctors who speak English.
Dental services in Mexico also are generally good and much lower in cost than comparable services in the U.S. and other developed countries. Dentists in Mexico are required to be certified through the Asociacion Dental Mexicana. Many dental offices in Mexico’s cities are equipped with the latest technology and offer the most current procedures.
Check with your embassy in Mexico City or the consulate nearest you for a list of dentists who speak English.
Emergency Medical Care
The numbers to dial for emergencies in Mexico are: Fire 068, Ambulance 065 and Police 066.