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What is IMSS?

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS is one Mexico's Social Security Institute. Yearly costs, enrollment for expats, pre-existing conditions and more are discussed.

Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS, is Mexico's Social Security Institute. If you are working for a public or private sector employer, you should be automatically enrolled in IMSS. If you are retired or not working and wish to enroll in IMSS, you may be eligible to pay into the system. However, visa status (permanent resident visas are preferred, temporary resident visas are sometimes acceptable), pre-existing conditions and age are all factors in eligibility for IMSS. Eligible expats typically pay $300-400 per year for IMSS coverage.

"Some expats have been able to qualify for Mexico's IMSS (socialized medical coverage). What I've observed is that 'little medical problems' are often not worth taking to an IMSS clinic at all. Folks will just go to a local doctor and pay 200 or 300 pesos ($10 to 15 US) to a local general practitioner, and typically 400 to 600 ($20 to 30 US) pesos for a high-end specialist in a major city. When a friend contracted a rare illness however, her IMSS case was 'bumped up' the system, and she was cared for in a leading Mexico City hospital. (costs quoted here adjusted for Feb 2017 exchange rate)," one expat elaborated.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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