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Healthcare in Mexico is of a high standard and affordable. In fact, the quality and lower cost of Mexican healthcare have resulted in many US citizens, especially those who don't have insurance, travelling to Mexico for cheaper treatment.
Mexico has universal healthcare, meaning its citizens and residents are entitled to free healthcare coverage. There are different programmes depending on citizenship and employment status in the public sector. While public healthcare is affordable and relatively efficient, private hospitals are generally more consistent and offer specialised facilities and procedures.
Expats moving to Mexico should consider getting private health insurance, as the public hospitals are overcrowded and wait times can be long. Private hospitals and healthcare facilities offer a more personalised treatment and have shorter wait times.
Public healthcare in Mexico
The Mexican government subsidises public healthcare in Mexico through the Secretariat of Health.
Unemployed Mexican citizens receive coverage through a programme called INSABI, which expats are unlikely to use.
Citizens and foreigners working in Mexico qualify for treatment under the public programme, Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS). Besides government funding for the IMSS, employees contribute part of their salaries, and employers match the amount. Retired expats are also entitled to state-subsidised health coverage.
Mexican government employees are covered by a separate programme referred to as the Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado (ISSSTE).
Private healthcare in Mexico
The quality of care provided by the state system can vary greatly, so most expats opt for private healthcare in Mexico. These options may be more pricey, but the facilities are often more advanced, specialised procedures are more accessible and waiting times are much shorter.
Since many Mexican doctors complete their medical training in Europe or the US, they are usually fluent in English, but nurses mostly only speak Spanish.
Health insurance in Mexico
Expats opting for private healthcare should strongly consider additional health insurance. Senior expats may qualify for discounts on healthcare coverage. Some private hospitals in Mexico do not accept international health insurance, in which case patients will have to pay for their treatment and be reimbursed after the fact. When selecting health insurance, expats should bear this in mind.
Pharmacies in Mexico
Expats should have no problem finding pharmacies in Mexico. Some pharmacies are open 24 hours and some offer clinics and consultations with a healthcare worker.
Expats who do not speak Spanish may prefer pharmacies linked to private hospitals where they are more likely to find English-speaking staff.
Health hazards in Mexico
Mexico has some mosquito-related health hazards, including the Zika and Chikungunya viruses. New arrivals should seek advice on relevant precautions from their GP or a professional healthcare worker.
Mexico's landscape is diverse, and with Mexico City and other areas being at high altitudes, new arrivals may experience headaches and a lack of energy. Mexico City also struggles with air pollution which can impact respiratory conditions, especially with the elderly and young children.
Expats should also avoid drinking tap water and having ice in drinks.
Pre-travel vaccinations for Mexico
Expats should visit a doctor six weeks before travelling to Mexico to ensure that they’re up to date with all necessary vaccinations. Although malaria risk is relatively low, other mosquito-related diseases are still a problem.
We advise any travellers to ensure their routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling to Mexico, including for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, as well as for Covid-19.
Emergency services in Mexico
The general emergency number in Mexico is 911. Emergency services are available, although response times may be slow, particularly in rural areas.
In Mexico City, expats can download the 911 CDMX app, which will also allow them to programme panic buttons.
►For more information on life in Mexico have a look at our Cost of Living in Mexico page
►Read up on safety matters in Mexico
"I would say pretty good. I have had to see a doctor several times for my HSP allergic purpura. It was cheap, about $30 for a visit and the same for medicine." Marcia and Judd talk express their opinion on healthcare in Mexico in their expat interview.
"For more serious cases there is a hospital as well. Medical costs were low, but I can’t really give exact figures." Read more about Rudi's experience living in Cabo San Lucas in his expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Mexico?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Mexico. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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