Healthcare in Mexico is of a high standard and affordable. In fact, the quality and lower cost of healthcare and health insurance in Mexico have resulted in many US citizens, especially those who don't have insurance, travelling to Mexico for cheaper treatment.

Mexico's healthcare system operates on universal healthcare, meaning its citizens and residents are entitled to free 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 in Mexico 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 government subsidises public healthcare in Mexico through the Secretariat of Health. Citizens and foreigners working in Mexico qualify for treatment under the public programme Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS), which is partially funded by the government. In addition, employees contribute part of their salaries, and employers match the amount. Retired expats are also entitled to state-subsidised health coverage, though due to documentation requirements, enrollment can be complex.

While the IMSS offers affordable public healthcare in Mexico, its major drawback is that it excludes pre-existing conditions.

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Private healthcare for expats 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 may only speak Spanish.

Expat health insurance in Mexico

Expats opting for private healthcare should strongly consider private 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 would have to pay for their treatment and be reimbursed afterwards. When selecting health insurance, expats should bear this in mind.

Pharmacies in Mexico

Healthcare by Bermix Studio from Unsplash

Expats should have no problem finding pharmacies in Mexico. Some pharmacies are open 24 hours, and some offer clinics and consultations with healthcare workers.

Pharmacies in Mexico are divided into two classes: Segunda Clase and Primera Clase. Segunda Clase pharmacies are commonly found throughout Mexico, and these pharmacies can only sell over-the-counter medicine. 

Primera Clase can sell all types of medication, including those that are at risk of abuse, but these types of pharmacies are more difficult to find. Expats who need stronger medication are advised to ask their doctors for directions to the nearest Primera Clase pharmacy. 

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 those with respiratory conditions, especially the elderly and young children.

Tap water in Mexico is considered unsafe, so expats should avoid drinking tap water and having ice in drinks. Water filters or purifying systems can be purchased to clean household water. 

Pre-travel vaccinations for Mexico

Expats should visit a doctor six weeks before travelling to Mexico to ensure they’re up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations. Although malaria risk is relatively low, other mosquito-related diseases are still a problem. 

There are also advisories on the escalation of Dengue fever across Mexico and South America. Expats should ensure they protect themselves against mosquito bites. 

We advise travellers to ensure their routine vaccinations are up-to-date before travelling to Mexico, including for hepatitis A and B, typhoid and rabies. 

Emergency services in Mexico

The general emergency number in Mexico is 911. Although response times may be slow, particularly in rural areas, emergency services are available in Mexico.

In Mexico City, expats can download the 911 CDMX app, which will also allow them to programme panic buttons.

Expat Health Insurance

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