Living healthy in Mexico: Insurance, health care and Mexico's medical tourism - a resource page
Some are surprised at the quality of health care in Meixco. But the climate, diet and openness to alternative therapies all contribute to healty liing. In addition, Mexico is recognized throughout Latin America as a leader in cutting edge medicine, with world class hospitals and health care professionals. For medical tourism, Mexico is the logical — and best — choice for people from the US, Canada and Europe.
Hospitals in Mexico range from small town clinics to third level government hospitals with prestigious research departments and cutting edge technology. The same can be said for private hospitals. In general, we have have found care here to be excellent and, in some ways, more humane than it is north of the border.
- Private care
The editor's first experience with private hospitals was in 1978. Appendicitis necessitated a trip to Guadalajara's Mexico-American hospital, where emergency surgery was followed by wonderful care.
I discovered that private hospitals did not accept insurance policies from north-of-the border and required a patient to pay upon release. Sometimes this is still the case. They do, however, facilitate the paperwork for the patient's reimbursement.
More and more, private hospitals are accepting insurance policies for payment, but it is essential to ask at the time of admission or beforehand, if possible.
Hospitals expect a family member or friend to stay in the room with you, and a couch or cot is provided.
Many Mexican physicians do post-graduate training in Europe, the US or Canada and are fluent in English. Nursing staff tends to be less fluent in English. A dictionary tucked under the pillow isn't a bad idea.
Hospitals and clinics run by the IMSS (Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social) are available to all Mexicans and foreigners* who hold jobs. A portion of the salary is withheld to cover affiliation and the employer contributes a larger amount each month to complete the premium. In addition, self employed people and retirees may also join the system after taking care of the paperwork and paying the annual fee. Some pre-existing conditions may not be covered.
IMSS services cover doctors, diagnostic studies such as x-rays and lab work, hospitals and medical procedures, as well as prescription drugs. As with all socialized medical systems, the wait for care is usually longer than that in the private system. Many expats consider IMSS affiliation as a kind of major medical insurance should the need arise.
*Permission from the Immigration authorities is required for a foreigner to hold a job, and special working papers are needed.
- A personal response to the documentary Sicko: an open letter to film director Michael Moore - "I've discovered Mexico's health care system to be professional, caring and very affordable."
- Know the Law in Mexico: Medical Coverage and Hospitals
- IMSS - Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social
While no one enjoys going to the doctor, it's good to know there are extremely competent professionals on hand when a medical need arises. Most hospitals have a list of specialists with practice privileges. So do the consulates. That's a good place to begin.
Expert dental work can be much less expensive in Mexico than it is elsewhere. Many of our readers make appointments for crowns, bridges, dentures and non-emergency peridontal surgery before coming down.
Elective procedures / Medical tourism
Medical tourism is growing in popularity, and procedures performed by highly skilled professionals can cost from 1/4 to 1/2 what they do in other first world countries. Cosmetic surgery, operations to correct obesity, hip and knee replacements and Lasik eye surgery are only a few of the procedures opted for in Mexico. Of course, cosmetic surgery prices and all other procedures vary per factors involved.
Robert H. Page MD and Curtis P. Page MD, authors of travel health guidebooks, assist in coordinating elective procedures in Mexico. So does International Surgeons of the Americas (ISA Surgical).
While Medicare will not cover health care in Mexico, a number of private insurance policies cover emergencies for people traveling in Mexico. International insurance is available, as are policies underwritten by Mexican insurance companies.
Healthy living and travelling
Mexico's mild climate makes it easy to get outside and exercise almost every day. In addition, the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables are a wonderful substitute for processed foods. It's important to make healthy choices.
Holistic medicine, Reiki, homeopathic therapy and other alternative treatments are widely accepted and available in Mexico.
- Villas Buenaventura Cosalá Resort and Health Spa
- Massage Exchange with a Traditional Maya Massage Therapist
- ISA Surgical links patients to world class surgeons in Mexico
- MedToGo: Mexico Health and Safety Travel Guide, 2nd Edition - By Robert H. Page MD and Curtis P. Page MD
- Yucatan Healthy Traveler's Handbook - By Robert H. Page MD and Curtis P. Page MD
- AA - Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Mexico in English
- International Insurance Plans for Foreigners in Mexico
- Purchasing Insurance for Mexico
- I've discovered Mexico's health care system to be professional, caring and very affordable.
- IMSS: The Hard Way - Personal Experience
- Taking the "Waters" in Mexico