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International insurance plans for foreigners in Mexico

Tony Hamrick

Updated September 16, 2013

It is advisable to have international health insurance while traveling or living as an expatriate. Having an international health plan gives a person, family or group a variety of choices when it comes to health care. For example, a person covered by such a plan can choose a private hospital or any approved physician for their care.

For persons living between countries, an international insurance plan may cover them in both countries and even worldwide. They can choose policy limits that can cover them for medical expenses up to $50,000 USD, with options for coverage for as much as $8,000,000 USD in medical benefits. Some plans have no lmits

However, not having appropriate international health coverage might expose one or one's family to a significant financial liability and impede appropriate care.

Some things to consider:

  • Many traditional domestic insurance plans won't cover a person outside his or her home country.
  • Usually Mexico auto insurance plans offer limited medical benefits of $2,000 USD per person, or less.
  • Medicare doesn't cover outside of the USA. (Please see remarks regarding the new USA Affordable Care Act / Refoms at the end of this article.)
  • A medically necessary air ambulance can cost $30,000 USD or more. Companies that offer only air ambulance insurance might have a 90-day waiting period for pre-existing medical conditions.
  • International health insurance plans allow multi-country flexibility for full benefits coverage. Canadians and Americans can stay outside their home country for much longer periods.

Short Term International Health Plans

These insurance plans can cover a person for up to three years outside their home country. If a person lives outside his or her home country permanently or for the majority of the year, see International Major Medical Plans below.

International Major Medical Plans

These insurance plans can cover a person for a lifetime if he or she is living in Latin America and visit their home country. Policies are renewable. These plans and the short-term plans cover costs of hospital and doctors, medicine, local and air ambulance, reunion of family members, and offer 24-hour-a-day, seven days a week support. There are more benefits than what is mentioned here.

Life Insurance and Annuities — How they can work for your benefit

Life insurance (permanent and term) policies are available at discounted rates

Permanent life policies may build cash value, which earns interest tax-free. Later in life, these cash values may be used to pay for such things as assisted living expenses or basic living expenses. Taking a portion of your savings (nest-egg) to purchase a fixed annuity can be useful to provide a steady income at a safe guaranteed rate of return, over a period of time. Often these give you a rate of return better than some banks (CDs for example) and can provide an income to be used for living and medical expenses.

Insurers offering Fixed-Annuities to Americans will sometimes allow a foreign citizen to purchase these instruments.

Visit International Insurance-Seguros agency for more information.

Here are some plans and a detailed description of coverage, as applies to expatriates, visitors and retirees heading to Mexico.

Preventative Healthcare Benefits

HCC Medical Insurance Services Atlas Plan
There is no medical underwriting, and the Atlas plan covers sudden, unexpected and unforeseen medical expenses outside of the person's home country of citizenship.
These policies are renewable from as little as 5 days for up to 36 months, and deductibles vary from $0 to $2,500 USD.
The range of coverage amount is $50,000 to $1,000,000 USD.
Generally, there are limits to coverage of pre-existing medical conditions.

Chronic treatments are not covered.

We have solutions.

Major Medical
Major Medical policies are available from IHI Danmark, an insurer who is part of the BUPA Group of companies (British United Provident Association) and from HCC Medical Insurance Services (formerly Multinational Underwriters).
You can apply up to a maximum age of 74. If the application is made before age 65, the person can qualify for lifetime coverage.
The IHI Superior Plan has no deductible, and virtually everything medical-, dental- and vision-related is covered at 100%. These plans are for private hospitals.
If he or she applies between the ages of 65 and 74, the policy will end at age 75.
You can apply up to a maximum age of 74. If the application is made before age 65, the person can qualify for lifetime coverage.
If an applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted with a premium load and a waiting period on that medical condition.
The applicant could be accepted with a permanent exclusion on the condition or could be declined.
Health check (wellness) benefits for the Platinum plan are limited to $250 USD a year for those who have been covered at least 12 months, and are not subject to a deductible waiting period on that medical condition.
The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS — the government's social medical program — will not cover chronic treatments for new applicants with resident visas.
 

Preventative examinations can detect a medical condition in the early stages before it grows and gains momentum.

Traditional domestic US health insurance plans may have wellness (health checkup) benefits but the member usually cannot take advantage of these wellness benefits in Mexico.

International medical insurance carriers usually have limited dollar amounts, which can be used for routine health checkup exams. Wellness benefits of a US domestic health insurer usually means a higher premium, as often is the case with employer group insurance plans.

Medicare and Medicaid covered individuals could benefit from an international medical insurance policy since these government health plans do not cover Mexico or outside of the United States. See the Social Security Administration website.

Chronic Treatment for Current Medical Conditions

US citizens over age 65

If a person is Medicare/Medicaid eligible or totally uninsured, he or she might need to pay out of pocket for their medical treatments in Mexico. Some also purchase a medical air evacuation policy. Most medical air evacuation policies have a 90 day waiting period on pre-existing medical conditions before the person is covered. Some individuals buy this whether they are visiting or staying long term. The one risk with medical air evacuation policies is that most do not cover medical expenses. Some people are convinced that if they become seriously ill, they will buy a plane ticket and return to the US to seek medical treatment. But the reality is that a commercial aircraft might not allow an ill person to board, due to medical risk.These planes are not equipped or staffed like an air ambulance.

There is a significant financial risk here should one become seriously ill or have an accident. Mexico's private hospitals have been known to require payment for medical services rendered before allowing a foreigner to leave the hospital, unless the patient's insurer will issue a guarantee of payment letter. For some, these medical bills can be significant. A two week private hospital stay in some major cities could approach or far exceed $30,000 USD! It is rare for any US domestic insurer to issue a guarantee of payment letter to a private medical facility in Mexico unless a contractual arrangement exists. This is often referred to by the term "In-Network." International health insurance plans often have In-Network arrangements to protect the insured patient, the medical facility and the insurer from hospital over-billing.

Rates at most Mexican private hospitals have been incrementally increasing over the last several years, especially in areas where expatriates and visitors abound. It's a good idea to also consider a Lifestyle Improvement Program designed by a professional.

There are short-term international medical policies such as the IMG Patriot Insurance plan or the Atlas Insurance plan. There are no medical questions, and these plans cover sudden, unexpected and unforeseen medical expenses outside of the person's home country of citizenship. These policies are ideal for visitors staying a few weeks or months, students and professionals.

The policies are renewable from as little as 5 days for up to 36 months, and deductibles vary from $0, $100, $250, $500 and all the way up to a deductible of $2,500 USD. The range of coverage amount is $50,000 to $1,000,000 USD.

Generally, there are limits to coverage of pre-existing medical conditions. For details, visit www.globalmedicalplans.com

International major medical plans are available from IHI Danmark, an insurer who is part of the BUPA Group of companies (British United Provident Association).

IHI Danmark's suite of plans allows a person to apply up to a maximum age of 74.

If the applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted with a premium load and a brief waiting period on the medical condition; this decision is made by a medical risk underwriter. There are no lifetime limits on these plans, and no exclusions for hazardous sports or activities of any kind. The IHI Superior Plan has the best benefits I've ever seen on any health plan, anywhere. It is zero deductible, and virtually everything medical-, dental- and vision-related is covered at 100%. These plans are for private hospitals. To learn more about these plans, please contact us.

IMG offers the Global Major Medical Plan. It has a worldwide option and covers up to $5 million USD, and includes coverage in the US, Mexico and Canada. They also offer a lower-premium option to cover Latin America that excludes the US and Canada.

You can apply up to a maximum age of 74. Ask us about this.

If an applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted, and there are guidelines. Health check (wellness) benefits are included.

The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS — the government's social medical program — will not cover chronic treatments for new applicants with resident visas.

U.S. citizens under age 65

Usually people in this age class hold a U.S. domestic health policy or have COBRA benefits from a former employer or via the working spouse. When traveling or moving to Mexico, they may maintain their existing policies and some return to the States for chronic treatments. Or they may pay their own medical expenses in Mexico out-of-pocket — if the medicines are available. If the medicines are available, they are usually afordable.

People considered uninsurable and without medical benefits might purchase a medical air evacuation policy. Most medical air evacuation policies have a 90 waiting period on pre-existing medical conditions. After the 90 day waiting period, the air medical evacuation company may cover the condition, but you can check with us.

Americans who are uninsurable are sometimes afraid to move away from the United States for fear of being unable to secure medical coverage. However, some uninsurable persons — with major medical conditions — have decided the benefits of living in Canadian-American expatriate communities in Mexico outweigh the risks, and move to Mexico anyway.

There are short-term international medical policies such as the Atlas plan from IMG Patriot plan with no medical questions.. As mentioned earlier, these plans cover sudden, unexpected and unforeseen medical expenses outside of the person's home country of citizenship. These policies are renewable from as little as 5 days for up to 36 months, and vary in deductible from $0 to $2,500 USD. If you buy three or more months of coverage, you are covered for a brief incidental trip back to your home country. The range of coverage runs from $50,000 to $1,000,000 USD. Generally there are limits of coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. Chronic treatments are not covered.

There are international major medical plans from insurer IHI Danmark, part of the BUPA Group of companies (British United Provident Association).

IHI Danmark's suite of plans allows a person to apply up to a maximum age of 74. If the applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted with a small premium load and a brief waiting period on the medical condition. This decision is made by a medical risk underwriter.This decision is made by a medical risk underwriter. There are no lifetime limits on these plans, and no exclusions for hazardous sports or activities of any kind.


**IHI Danmark
BUPA Group
IHI Danmark's suite of plans allows a person to apply up to a maximum age of 74.
If the applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted with a premium load and a 4-week waiting period on the medical condition.
If the applicant is accepted, IHI Danmark would cover treatments of the chronic condition after the deductable has been met, usually with a 4-week waiting period.
An applicant could be accepted with a permanent exclusion on the medical condition or the applicant could be declined.
The IHI Danmark Diamond plan covers up to $2 million USD annual.
Their popular Gold plan covers up to $1.5 million USD annual.
Their Silver reduced-benefits plan covers up to $700,000 USD annual.
The IHI Superior plan has no deductible, and virtually everything medical-, dental- and vision-related is covered at 100%.
These plans are offshore insurance products, and work at private hospitals.
There are no lifetime limits on these plans. The Gold plan is the most popular, and all have medical air evacuation benefits.
Health check (wellness) benefits are limited to $600 USD annual on the Diamond plan, and $300 on the Gold plan.
There are no exclusions for hazardous sports or activities of any kind.

The IHI Superior plan has the best benefits I've ever seen on any health plan, anywhere. There is no deductible, and virtually everything medical, dental and vision-related is covered at 100%. These plans are for private hospitals. More about these plans can be found by contacting the author.

IHG has the Global Medical plans. It has a worldwide option, coverage up to $8 million USD, and includes full major medical plus medical air evacuation benefits in the US, Mexico and Canada. It also has a lower-premium option to cover only Latin America that excludes the US and Canada.

You can apply up to a maximum age of 74. Contact us if you are 75 or older.

If an applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted with a premium load and a waiting period on that medical condition.

Health check (wellness) benefits for the Citizen Secure plan are not subject to a deductible. A lifestyle improvement program should be considered.

The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS — the government's social medical program — will not cover chronic treatments for new applicants with resident visas.

Unexpected, Unforeseen Illness or Injury

If a person is eligible for Medicare eligible, he or she might pay out-of-pocket for their unexpected, unforeseen illness or injury in Mexico. Some purchase a medical air evacuation policy.

There are short-term international medical policies such as the Atlas plan, mentioned previously. For more information, visit www.globalmedicalplans.com.

There are international major medical plans from insurer IHI Danmark, part of the BUPA Group of companies (British United Provident Association), as well as from HCC Medical Insurance Services, as mentioned previously, for those living in Mexico. For more information, please contact the author.

The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS — the government's social medical program — can administer emergency treatment to visitors, just as private medical facilities can. The quality of care can be limited in remote areas.

Catastrophic Medical Event

Some purchase a medical air evacuation policy in case they should suffer a catastrophic medical event. Most medical air evacuation policies have a 90 waiting period on pre-existing medical conditions, and the plans usually include repatriation of remains in the event of death. The risk with medical air evacuation-only policies is that they usually provide no medical coverage benefits.

There are short-term international medical policies such as the plan, mentioned previously. Catastrophic medical events are covered, per the policy limits. These plans usually include medical air evacuation benefits.

There are international major medical plans from insurer IHI Danmark, BUPA and IMG, as mentioned previously, for those living in Mexico. These plans, too, usually include medical air evacuation benefits.

The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS — the government's social medical program — can administer emergency treatment to visitors, as can private medical facilities. The quality of care can be limited in remote areas.

Employer International Group Medical Plans

International group medical insurance plans can range in size from two employees and beyond, with no size limit. Coverage is extended to Canadian, US or Mexican citizens. These plans can be custom designed with ease, based on the employer's needs. Rates are usually lower than with domestic US group plans.

There are group medical plans that offer coverage regardless of medical conditions of the employees. Other such plans can be implemented where rates are based on the average age of the employees and disclosed medical conditions (if any). Deductibles can range from $250, $500, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000. Coverage is worldwide and includes Latin America, with the option of the US and Canada.

To save on premiums, a plan can be implemented to cover worldwide but exclude the US and Canada. Benefits include hospitalization, outpatient surgery, treatments, medicines and medical air-evacuation. The spread of medical risk among a pool of employees can possibly result in lower premiums and more flexibility, insuring employees who might have medical conditions.

Long Term Care Insurance

There are insurers offering long term care benefits that can be used to pay expenses in Mexico for someone who is chronically ill. Benefits are paid when the person cannot perform at least four of the six "Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)" without assistance. A physician must certify that the person meets these requirements.

Life Insurance

Why do you need life insurance? Its main purpose is to provide cash tax free to your family or business partners when you die. The payout — the "death benefit" — is an important financial resource. It can help pay the mortgage, run the household, and ensure that your dependents aren't burdened with debt. These proceeds could mean that they won't have to sell assets, homes, or rob retirement plans to pay outstanding bills or taxes. What's more, there is usually no federal income tax on life insurance benefits.

Benefits from an international policy will be paid in US dollars. With Latin America-based policies, the insurer would buy dollars to pay the death benefit or pay it in local currency.

Life Insurance is a tool to protect partners who are in business together. Policies can be a place where one can borrow money. There are optional critical illness policies, disability income riders and long term care benefits that can supplement a life insurance policy.

Disability Income Protection

Usually this is an option to protect your income or paycheck, should you become ill and are unable to work.

 

Note about healthcare reform affecting those living in the US and citizens living outside the USA

The USA Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for transforming the Affordable Care Act — signed into law March of 2010 — into regulation form. (Some refer to this as Obamacare.) These mandates will affect those who have health insurance from a USA based carrier.

The most dramatic changes will occur in January 2014 and include Healthcare Exchanges, coverage of pre-existing medical conditions, pediatric dental care, maternity coverage, and some mandates that are opposed by religious organizations. These mandates will add to the cost of premiums.

Some insurance plans will change dramatically. We mention this because many people have this type of plan and spend a majority of time outside the USA. There are exceptions, such as plans by International Health Insurers, travel plans and short term plans which do not have to comply because they are not covering people living in the USA; they cover expatriates and local nationals living outside the US. It may be an advantage to be on an international insurance plan with multi-country coverage.

It is not anticipated that the Affordable Care Act will have much of an effect on those who may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other such government plans.

On a separate note, you should consider a Lifestyle Improvement Program. Why? There are efforts underway at institutions such as University of Arizona to train forward-thinking practitioners in the way of Integrative Medicine, transforming the ways of conventional medicine and helping practitioners become health partners with the patient. The partnership helps the patient become aware that lifestyle changes are necessary to improve health, and that partnerships help the patient improve his or her own health through techniques. Some call this adaptation of a prevention lifestyle. It is very well documented that 75 percent of chronic illness is lifestyle-related, so you and those close to youshould consider a lifestyle improvement program. 

Please write us with your comments. Our contact information is listed below.

For more information on health insurance for retirement in Mexico, contact Tony Hamrick of Seguros Insurance.

 

Published or Updated on: May 30, 2010 by Tony Hamrick © 2009
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