What is Seguro Popular?

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: Seguro Popular was the former healthcare system for residents who do not have social security. It was replaced in January 2020. Learn what this former system provided and about the new system, INSABI.

On January 1, 2020, INSABI (El Instituto de Salud para el Bienestar) or The Institute of Health for Well-being in English replaced Seguro Popular.

Please go to our page on INSABI for details on the new healthcare option.

An Overview of the FORMER Seguro Popular System

Seguro Popular was not typically recommended as the primary healthcare option for foreigners living in Mexico, but some older expats who could not get adequate coverage under IMSS due to pre-existing conditions, enrolled in Seguro Popular and paid out-of-pocket for private care as needed.

What Expats Have Said About this Former System

Seguro Popular was not typically recommended as the primary healthcare option for foreigners living in Mexico, but some older expats who could not get adequate coverage under IMSS due to pre-existing conditions, enrolled in Seguro Popular and paid out-of-pocket for private care as needed.

What Expats Have Said About this Former System

One expat explained this former basic level of healthcare in Mexico, "Seguro Publico is generally free, or almost free, depending upon your family situation, home, etc., and is for those without any other insurance coverage. Neither are really insurance, but are socialized medical care programs for legal residents of Mexico; citizens and those with residence visas. Quality of care can vary widely from one area to another and waits can be very long; often requiring arrival at 6:30 AM and waiting much of the day, only to be referred to the next day, or another location or provider. Appointment times can take several weeks; even months."

"Seguro Popular has its own hospitals with different levels of care available. Some are good, some are not. No, you do not get to choose the hospital and get reimbursement. These are public hospitals and are a far cry from the excellent private hospitals you will find in places like Guadalajara, etc," explained one expat.

"Seguro Popular doesn't eliminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions (nor age). (With IMSS there are delays in coverage.) SP has no exclusions like that. They will interview you for financial information (basic questions like whether you rent or own, have a refrigerator or whether your floors are tile or dirt, etc.) but by USA and Canadian standards, the annual payment will be very modest. Also, there are equally modest charges for some surgeries or treatments. Where it may fall short for some people is that the coverage is not comprehensive. Covered treatments and medications are based on an extensive and growing menu design to provide the most needed treatments for the most people. But there are sometimes conditions that fall outside of their menu (dialysis for example). People often tell me that it covered everything for them. But if you are the exception, I think you need to know that there is a small the one thing you need isn't on the menu," explained one expat.

Another expat recalled,"The Seguro Popular hospital in my area literally ran out of every kind of supply recently....some glitch in the funds coming from the Mexican government. Locals have had donation drives and supplied the hospital, at least for a while."

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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