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Taking care of your health in Mexico

The health care system in Mexico is complicated, with different health insurance providers (both public and private) operating their own hospitals and clinics for their own clients.

It’s a three-tier model, comprising a very basic level of care open to nationals without an income, one managed by the Mexican social security system (IMSS) paid for through the wage packet and open to foreign nationals, and a third private-sector tier. 

Health care for all

Mexico achieved its objective to launch universal health care coverage in 2012 and public health care provision offers free or heavily subsidised health care to all Mexican nationals, regardless of employment status. In addition, there are separate systems of state-subsidised public health insurance for private sector employees, public sector workers and members of the armed forces, the premiums for which reflect the level of pay earned by the employee.

A higher standard of care

With better facilities and shorter waiting times, the private health care system is an attractive option for higher wage earners, who pay for a guaranteed level of service through private health insurance. This includes access to private doctors (physicians), private hospitals and clinics.

According to World Health Organization figures, Mexico’s health care system is ranked as 61st in the world, out of 191 member states. The country has two physicians per 1,000 population (similar to other developed nations such as Qatar and Poland) and spends 6.3% of its GDP on health care (a little less than Columbia and a little more than Venezuela).

The quality of care and range of services offered by Mexican hospitals and clinics is generally good, and Mexican private hospitals offering specialist, elective dentistry and plastic surgery services are becoming increasingly popular with American health tourists. Keen to take advantage of the far lower cost of such procedures compared to the U.S., they often pay just 20–30% of the cost of the same procedures in their home country.

Be prepared

Anyone contemplating moving to Mexico should note that many private hospitals are unwilling to deal directly with insurers, expecting patients to provide cash payments up front and to reclaim the costs from their insurers after treatment. As a result, non-Mexican nationals travelling, or planning to settle there, are strongly advised to obtain a comprehensive private health insurance for Mexico, and additionally to ensure that they have sufficient financial resources at their disposal to pay for treatment at the point of access.

Health care provision is essential for you and your family if you move to Mexico. Find out more about the level of cover you’ll need, along with practical advice, by talking to one of our friendly team. 

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