35 Expats Talk about Health Insurance and Healthcare in Mexico
Last updated on Nov 02, 2022
Summary: Expats and global nomads in Mexico share their experiences with health insurance, healthcare in Mexico, local hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care and more.
How are healthcare services Mexico?
When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Mexico, they replied:
"Unfortunately, we do not have great options for people with serious issues - like cancer. But diabetes and high blood pressure, although serious, can be cared for here. Our issue in Huatulco is we do not have a private hospital, so we rely mostly on the Red Cross and the Marine Hospital.," mentioned another expat in Huatulco.
"Although I have met people having care for serious conditions, my experience has only been dental. People I know who had the same procedure done just across the border in San Diego had side effects I did not experience with my Mexican dentist," commented one expat who moved to Tijuana, Mexico.
"Hospital San Antonio del Lago de Chapala is a private hospital and is known to charge huge bills to patients. We used to request for daily billing details about medicines, health report, isolation charge, the staff was least bothered about this. But at the time of discharge, we got final bill and we couldn't recognize all billing things. I felt helpless on discharge from the hospital management. There were so many things that didn't reached to us but were still added in the hospital bills. Request to patients who get hospitalized in Hospital San Antonio del Lago de Chapala. DO KEEP A WATCH ON YOUR BILLS! ," said another expat.
"I avoid cut-and-drug as much as possible and take responsibility for the key aspects of health: eating wisely and exercising. If I don't do those things, what can anyone do for me? What I do no t like about the government health program that I joined is that doctors have the same reliance on drugs as in the US. I have not had hospital care, but friends who have report excellent care. I would like to start a movement to ban Coca Cola and other diabetes-inducing "foods." And I would like to see more attention paid to use of traditional medicinal plants, which are widely available in Mexico," remarked another expat in Coatepec.
Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Mexico?
"I do not have medical insurance here in Mexico. And, most of my Dr's do not accept insurance anyway. Office visits, and hospital care are 1/5th the cost of USA and much better. In office appointments are usually an hour long instead of the 15 minute flyby of USA. Few Specialist have nurses. They do their own scheduling," mentioned another expat living in Queretaro City and Tequisquiapan.
"Medicare and supplements are only of use within the US except for certain life threatening emergencies when traveling. If you have substantial financial resources and a high respect for the health services in major cities you can pay for private care. Most insurance in MX will not cover preexisting conditions and the premiums are out of reach, especially for people over 70 or so. Staying connected with doctors and hospitals in the US is the most logical thing for us, we make several trips a year to see our doctors but are prepared to pay for care here in MX as needed," said an expat in Merida.
What are emergency services like in Mexico?
When we asked about emergency services, members in Mexico wrote:
"Tequisquiapan has a NUMBER of private hospitals. I cannot tell you about them as I travel TO QUERETARO for my health issues. I live in Tequisquiapan, Queretaro. For an expat, myself, I found myself unfortunately over the past 2 years needing healthcare. 1. Shoulder surgery 2. I was "found" by the ONLY venomous spider in all of Mexico and 3. I fell in Costco in Queretaro slipping on water on the floor and broke my hip. I have Medicare in the USA but it does you NO GOOD in Mexico. Period. Call me jaded but i cannot see paying for 2 health insurances at the same time. I am seriously considering stopping Medicare (after 3 years here) as it is useless here and why waste $200 a month? ," said an expat in Queretaro City and Tequisquiapan.
"The public hospital, the Red Cross, and the Marine hospital are all right next to each other on the main road in town. It is best to call for an ambulance from the Red Cross by dialing (958) 587-1188. For a fee of $40 USD a year, you will have free ambulance service," commented one expat living in Huatulco, Mexico.
Will I need to travel to see a specialist?
"This is a bit long, but you asked and I wish I had known before all of this happened to me. I have been in 3 hospitals (PRIVATE) in Queretaro. 1 for shoulder in Juraquilla and 2 in Qro. proper. ALL were extremely up to date, clean and better than the last on in Texas I had to go to. The staff of Dr's is amazing. ALL of my Dr's have spoken English, which is good because my Spanish is poco! 1. a good orthopedic surgeon 2. a good Internist! When I was extremely ill, and not knowing why, and my little housekeeper saying I had to go to a Dr., I ended up calling a friend in Qro. and she helped with finding me an English speaking Internist. Little did i know he is an amazing Professor that has taught most all of my other Dr.s. This was when we found the spider bite and i was immediately admitted into San Jose Hospital in Queretaro. I was there for 7 days with multiple IV, Oxygen etc. Private room. I ended up with a team of 7 Dr's. I had no idea about this spider nor how bad it is. I have been told I was lucky to be alive. The ONLY thing at San Jose was I was a single woman and thy kept hounding me about WHO was going to take care of me and How was I going to pay? They expect some family member to stay with you 24/7. I told them that wasn't going to happen unless it was one of my 4 legged dogs. They weren't too sure about that and we DID have a big go round about this when they started yelling at one of my visitors as to why they weren't there to take care of me. Be forewarned! So I had a 'team' of Dr.'s that all speak English in place. I had talked to another Orthopedist last fall when I found a 'hole' left by CEA in front of my house. So when I fell, I pretty much knew where I wanted to go, and where my Dr's were all located. BIG THING before they will look at you or admit you, you usually have to put up a deposit of $10,000 pesos.($500 usd). But, you will be refunded what you do not use. Emergency room fee (also included my Ambulance ride) and you can call your Dr you want to see you. I ended up with X-rays, an CT scan. My Dr. came and I was in surgery at 9 pm and even had my anesthesiologist (I see 2 times a year for pain injection management for my shoulder Dr. in Texas screwed up) HOSPITAL H plus is where I wanted to go. Clean, all my Dr's in one place. The ONLY thing I have an issue with is for a major surgery (plate and 6 screws) they only kept me 2 days then sent me "home". There are ** NO REHAB FACILITIES *** fortunately I had a Mexican family to look after me in their home for the next 8 weeks. Since then I have Physical Therapist that come to MY home to give therapy. Would I return to USA for medical Care. Everyone is different. But NO, honestly I feel my Dr's, each and every one are better than what I had in the USA! They are compassionate, very well educated - some even in USA and then come back to Mx to practice. Everyone is different and expects different ...... I am a Nurse by trade so I am very picky. Summary: The issues I have I've stated above. 1. They want someone of your family to stay with you in hospital for your care. ( That is what a nurse is getting paid to do, tell them that!) 2. No Rehab facilities. 3. Prices are CHEAP at private hospitals compared to USA. AND, watch out for Violinista Spiders. ," added another expat.
"Expats tend to travel to Mexico city for major health issues. This is about a half hour plane ride. It is important though to have PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE with Air Ambulance service," commented one expat who moved to Huatulco.
Are common prescription medications available in Mexico?
"Pretty much. Cheaper than USA costs and many different pharmacies. Guadalajara and Aahorra," commented one expat living in Queretaro City and Tequisquiapan, Mexico.
"Common prescriptions medicines are available locally and we have an abundance of pharmacies here. Most medications do not require a prescription with the exception of antibiotics. There are generic options here and prices are quite low compared to the US," added another expat.
"All hospitals and clinics are 10-15 minutes from any point in the city. Many. many medical options to choose from. They have both public, which might be a long wait, and private, substantially below USA costs," mentioned another expat in Merida.
"We have several hospitals/clinics in town. But it is important that you go to a PRIVATE HOSPITAL. Expats will not be accustomed to using a public hospital in Mexico and I do NOT recommend it. The private hospitals are clean, take the patients right away, easy to get appointments without waiting for months, doctors speak English, doctors have an extra certification to work there, and overall you will have very good experience...as long as you have health insurance! I ran into an issue of not having health insurance and ended up in a public hospital. Not an experience I want to repeat. So, I now have a policy that allows me to choose ANY PRIVATE HOSPITAL OR DOCTOR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. My coverage also includes the US - but this is an option. I am paying a fraction of the price that I paid in the US. I love to travel and this insurance gives me piece of mind. If you need info please let me know," commented one expat who moved to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
As a foreigner living in Mexico, will I have access to public healthcare? What is it like?
"I have no idea. Getting to a Dr. in Tequisquiapan is easy. You just ask someone where a good Dr. is and that is where you go. The best Drs are at their private hospitals," said an expat in Queretaro City and Tequisquiapan.
"Currently the Mexican heath care system is being revised by the new President MACRO. They are doing away with one of the options that is often abused by expats which is meant to be used by the poorest of poor Mexicans. This option I would never recommend regardless as the doctors in many cases have not finished their education and you are taking a huge risk. Then there is another option which employers are required to contribute a portion to your coverage. But, as expats the most popular option is to purchase PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE. Pre-existing conditions are usually not covered. Public hospitals are not up to the US standards in the majority of cases, which is why most expats choose to use PRIVATE hospitals with PRIVATE insurance coverage," commented one expat living in Huatulco, Mexico.
What have your experiences during the pandemic with the local healthcare system been like?
We asked expats in Mexico if they have access to public healthcare in Mexico. And, if they do have access, what is it like. They wrote...
"Suffered a ruptured lung requiring surgery. treatment was outstanding and affordable," added another expat.
"THis nurse was the only healthcare facility I needed. I really have no idea where I would go if I got really sick???," commented one expat who moved to La Mision.
Are healthcare services good in Mexico?
We asked people if they have access to good medical care in Mexico. They wrote:
"A few weeks ago I used my GEHA (government employees health association) insurance at Hospital San Antonio. Well I should say I tried to use it. At first the staff at Hospital San Antonio said that my entire emergency would be covered but they charged my $25000 USD UP Front and I had to pay it or the administrative staff there told me they would send me to a public hospital in the worst part of Guadalajara. They bullied me and I felt so uncomfortable but I was not in a position to fight. I paid the up front fee and then on discharge they just deducted it from the bill which I still had to pay and they gave me a bill with codes to submit to my insurer for reimbursement...such lies and thieves trying to trick people about accepting insurances. I will never go back to Hospital San Antonio in Tlyacapan," remarked another expat in Lake Chapala.
"Yes, in San Miguel and Queretero nearby we have excellent care and it’s reasonably priced," explained one expat living in San Miguel de Allende .
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.
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- 2022 Guide to Living in Mexico
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