Healthcare in Mexico
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Healthcare in Mexico is of a high standard and is affordable for expats. There are three levels within the Mexican healthcare system, the lowest of which is a limited coverage system in place for unemployed Mexicans that expats will not need to utilise.
The second level of healthcare is a public sector national healthcare programme, Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS). Citizens and foreigners who are employed in Mexico are eligible for IMSS healthcare. This healthcare programme is funded by employees who contribute part of their salary each month. This amount is then matched by their employer.
The top level of healthcare is provided by private clinics and hospitals. Expats already covered by the national healthcare system who would like to utilise this level of care should have additional health insurance in order to shoulder the high expenses incurred by this sector. Private hospitals are generally better and more consistent than government-supported facilities.
The high standard of Mexican healthcare and the fact that it is provided at a lower cost than in neighbouring USA has resulted in many US citizens, especially those who don't have insurance, going to Mexico each year to find cheaper treatment and pay 'out-of-hand'.
Public healthcare in Mexico
Public healthcare in Mexico is subsidised by the Mexican government. Expats working for Mexican companies qualify to receive treatment under this programme. Part of an employee's salary in Mexico is automatically deducted to pay for the coverage.
Retired expats can also join the group, although coverage is not automatic. The quality of care provided by the system varies considerably. Some hospitals and clinics are truly first-rate, whereas others, particularly in rural areas, are less consistent.
Private healthcare in Mexico
Although public healthcare is of a high standard and is affordable, most expats still opt for private healthcare in Mexico.
Expats should be aware that some private hospitals in Mexico do not accept international health insurance, and the patient will have to pay for their treatment upon release from the hospital. However, hospitals usually provide the paperwork needed for expats to be reimbursed by their insurance company.
Because many Mexican doctors complete their medical training in Europe or the USA, they are often fluent in English. That said, expats should not expect the same from nurses.
Health insurance in Mexico
Expats who choose to remain covered under their private insurance from home need to ensure that their Mexican hospital of choice accepts foreign insurance providers and that the hospital can provide documentation for reimbursement from insurance companies. Senior citizen expats can qualify for discounts on healthcare.
Pharmacies in Mexico
Expats should have no problem finding pharmacies in Mexico, as there are many available around the country. This is largely a result of the many Americans that travel to Mexico to buy discounted prescription medication.
Health hazards in Mexico
Expats should visit a doctor six weeks before leaving for Mexico to ensure that they have received the correct vaccinations and have been provided with anti-malaria medication. Areas of Mexico where malaria is a risk include Chiapas, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Sinaloa and certain parts of Chihuahua, Durango and Sonora. There is no risk of malaria in the Mexico-US border areas.
It is advised that expats make sure their routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling to Mexico. The following vaccinations are recommended:
Emergency services in Mexico
The general emergency number in Mexico is 066. Emergency services are available, although response times may be slow, particularly in rural areas.