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Health Service

Mexico - Health Service

The healthcare standard in Mexico is on par with the rest of the Western world. Most of the doctors and dentists have been trained in either Europe or the US. All the major cities have at least one top-notch hospital along with several public hospitals and private clinics. Many elderly expats move to this country mainly because they get good quality health service at an affordable price.

The medical system in Mexico includes public and private institutions. There are roughly 4450 hospitals across the country, of which 67% are private and 33% are public.

The whole National Health System is regulated by The Ministry of Health (Secretaria de Salud). All the individual states also have their own independent Health Services called Servicios Estatales De Salud (SESA), which the Ministry regulates. This entity is also in charge of providing medical care to those who don’t have health insurance. The Ministry has set up a fund called Seguro Popular de Salud for those who cannot afford any healthcare.

According to the labor laws all employers and employees (including foreigners) are required to join and pay towards a social security fund, for which they receive Public Health Service. The employees can choose from a few institutions, depending upon the sector that they work in. The largest social security institutions in the country are Mexican Social Security Institute (Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social, IMSS) for the private sector employees and Instituto de Seciridad y Servisios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado (ISSTE) for employees of the public sector.

All expats who are working with Mexican companies are entitled to receive treatment under the IMSS program once their companies register them for it. Setting up an IMSS account is complicated and should not be attempted individually. Expats need these documents to register for the program:

• A passport
• Proof of work and residence permit
• Residence proof
• Birth certificate (translated into Spanish)
• Marriage license (if applicable)
• A filled out questionnaire disclosing medical history and any pre-existing conditions

Once a person is accepted into a program a card is issued. This card needs to be carried on all visits to the doctor.

Public healthcare is either partially or completely subsidized by the Federal Government. Like in most other countries, public hospitals provide low-cost treatment for those who do not have insurance; they need to make payments upfront. Though public healthcare is of good quality, there are long queues and getting an appointment or immediate treatment can be difficult. If patients are admitted, these hospitals provide nothing more than basic accommodation and meals. Moreover, their resources and equipment are sometimes limited. Therefore, those who can afford it opt for private healthcare.

Most of the expats settled in Mexico opt for Private healthcare as these hospitals and clinics are of the highest standards in the country. They offer a variety of luxuries like air-conditioned rooms, TV, an additional bed for a relative, and basic necessities, to name a few. In fact, private hospitals often suggest that the patient bring along a helper. A detailed list of private hospitals in Mexico is available here.

However, private health services come at a much higher cost. Most of these establishments ask for a deposit or a credit card number before admitting the patient. Those who are insured usually get reimbursed for their medical expenses. Expats should be aware of the fact some of the private facilities don’t accept international health insurance; in such cases,the patient needs to make the full payment before being released from the hospital. They can then get the required paperwork from the medical facility to make an insurance claim, which could take a few weeks to get settled.

People who require any kind of treatment or diagnosis are required to set up an appointment with their doctors beforehand. In case of an emergency, they could visit the emergency room or Sala de Urgencias of their nearest hospital. Each state has its own emergency service number and the national number is 066. The highway federal police can be contacted on (664) 682 5285.

Considering that most of the doctors are trained in other countries, they are usually very fluent in English. However, this doesn’t apply to the other medical staff, including nurses.

The average health statistics for Mexico have improved a lot in the last 4 to 5 decades but the country still has a long way to go in order to be at par with the other OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Countries. Some of the common health risks and problems observed in the people from this region include diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Before visiting this country, expats should see their doctors to ensure that they have received all the vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Typhoid. There is a high risk of Malaria in Chiapas, Sinaloa, Oaxaca, Nayarit as well as a few parts of Chihuahua, Sonora, and Durango.

Smoking is frowned upon across the country and a ban has been imposed in many public areas, especially airports, hospitals, schools, and parks. Many restaurants and bars have designated areas for smokers but there have been proposals to make these places completely smoke-free. Some bars and restaurants tolerate indoor smoking even though it is against the law.

While Mexico’s medical system is of a high standard, expats suffering from severe or long-term conditions that require special equipment should think twice before making the move. Being seriously or chronically ill in a foreign country can be quite challenging.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners


Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

AXA - Global Healthcare

As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.