Health is wealth. If you live by this mantra, you will agree that exploring a new land’s health and medical services is never a simple exercise—especially for an expat. Securing your healthcare when you are away from home should be your number-one priority.
Mexico offers an eclectic mix of rich culture and an inexpensive lifestyle that draws in many expatriates each year. Understanding the healthcare system of Mexico is fairly easy. Let’s delve into everything that you need to know about securing expatriate health insurance in Mexico.
Healthcare in Mexico – An Overview
The healthcare insurance system in Mexico is divided into three levels.
- Level one has Instituto de Salud para el Bienestar (INSABI), which translates to the Institute of Health for Well-Being.
INSABI is a Mexican government agency that delivers health services to Mexicans that are not protected under the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers, Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado (ISSSTE), or under the Mexican Social Security Institute, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS).
INSABI was launched in January 2020, replacing Seguro Popular, a nationwide medical care program.
- Level two comprises the public health insurance programs: ISSSTE and IMSS. ISSSTE is designed to give effective coverage to individuals in government employment. The IMSS health insurance program includes citizens working for private employers.
- Level three comprises private healthcare services from private hospitals and clinics.
What is INSABI? Are expats eligible?
Mexico introduced Seguro Popular in 2004, a full healthcare insurance program designed to provide affordable coverage to those that cannot afford to buy medical insurance and do not form a part of the country’s Social Security programs. Seguro Popular was replaced by INSABI in January 2020.
INSABI’s key role is to offer coverage to Mexicans who are not formally employed, provide services and medicines free of cost, and cover all conditions irrespective of the patient’s socio-economic status.
Therefore, expats do not fit into the vision of INSABI, as they are either provided health insurance coverage through their employers or choose to buy expat health insurance for additional coverage.
Public Health Insurance in Mexico
The Mexican Social Security Institute, commonly known as IMSS, is a public healthcare insurance program that offers health and medical services to both Mexicans and expats living in Mexico.
The contributions for the IMSS come from the government, employers, and employees (Mexican citizens or expats). Expats are automatically enrolled in the IMSS program by their employers.
Expats who are not formally employed, or who are self-employed, can voluntarily enroll in the IMSS program. To enroll voluntarily as an expat, you must either have temporary or permanent residency status to apply for the Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS), the public health insurance system in Mexico.
To receive benefits under the IMSS program, you must contribute for at least four weeks. After four weeks, you will receive coverage for primary care, hospital expenses, surgery, secondary care, and medication. The IMSS pays a portion of your salary if an illness or accident prevents you from working. These payments last a maximum duration of 52 weeks.
Everyone enrolled in the IMSS program receives full coverage (with prescriptions included) except for dental, preventive, and maternity care.
As an expat, if you are looking to have more comprehensive coverage, then relying only on the IMSS is ill-advised.
Private Health Insurance in Mexico
Private hospitals and clinics provide modern medical facilities and healthcare services as compared to the government or public hospitals in Mexico. With the limitation of services covered under the IMSS, natives and expats also opt for private health insurance in Mexico.
Private health insurance in Mexico is beneficial in rural Mexican areas, where public healthcare services are basic.
Private health insurance helps you gain access to the private network of hospitals and clinics that offer shorter waiting times, better infrastructure, English-speaking medical staff, and specialized services customized to specific needs.
But is private health insurance enough to provide for the requirements of an expat? What other options are available?
Expat Health Insurance in Mexico
Cultural differences, language barriers, unfamiliar treatments or drugs, and currency exchanges can easily confuse and overwhelm you.
Mexico is well-known for offering inexpensive quality care, but private hospitals in Mexico do not accept foreign health insurance. Therefore, you may end up with out-of-pocket expenses that would eat into your savings. Therefore, buying Mexico expat health insurance in Mexico is a great way to secure yourself from undue healthcare worries.
Expat health insurance plans are usually very flexible, allowing you to have as much or as little coverage as you want. In many situations, you can mimic the health insurance plan that you're already used to back home.
Expat health insurance plans can provide coverage for the following.
- Inpatient services
- Outpatient services
- Maternity treatment
- Long-term care
- Preventative care
- Health checks
- Emergency medical evacuation
Some plans may even offer non-medical coverages that can save you from significant unexpected expenses and perils of being an expat, such as security and political evacuation, natural disaster evacuation and accommodation, and income protection.
Secure Your Peace of Mind
Expat health insurance plans offer comprehensive coverage that can be customized to your medical requirements and budget.
Purchasing the right expatriate health insurance brings the comfort of knowing your health and finances are protected from the unexpected.