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Healthcare for expat retirees in Mexico

Mexico is an attractive destination for expat retirees due to its relatively low cost of living, modern infrastructure, excellent healthcare, as well as proximity to the United States. So much so that it ranked four out of the top 10 countries in International Living’s Global Retirement Index 2020. If you too are planning on relocating to Mexico in your golden years, then it is imperative to know the ins and outs of its healthcare system. This Pacific Prime Latin America article will answer all your questions.

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Value for money healthcare

Before you make preparations for your big move, you’ve got to make sure that you understand the healthcare system in Mexico. After all, it’s a fact of life that as one ages one will need to rely more on healthcare services. Here, we’ll give you a quick round up on two key points:

  • High standards at affordable prices: Medical facilities and healthcare providers in Mexico are on par with what’s available in the U.S. However, expat retirees can expect to pay 50% less in Mexico for the same treatments and prescriptions compared to its neighbor to the north.
  • Medical tourism: Even if you choose not to retire in Mexico, you can still travel to the country for medical services like many others. This is because it’s very popular with medical tourists; it’s the largest medical tourism destination for North Americans. That gives many expat retirees the confidence to move to the country.

Although healthcare is more affordable in Mexico, you should familiarize yourself with its cost of healthcare. In addition to this, you should note that U.S. health insurance, such as Medicare will typically not provide coverage abroad and you’ll need to make other arrangements.

Public vs. Private healthcare

Mexico has a public and a private healthcare system. As an expat retiree, you will be classed as a legal resident so you can access public hospitals. But you may want to consider going private instead, especially if you can’t communicate in Spanish. The following tells you why:

  • Accessibility and language barrier: While public hospitals are known for long wait times, private hospitals are far more comfortable to visit. If you go to the ones catered to medical tourists, the staff will also be more familiar in dealing with foreign patients.
  • Quality of healthcare and services: In addition to this, public hospitals may have their resources stretched. On the other hand, you can expect state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technologies at private hospitals.
  • Support system: You should also bear in mind that being admitted to public hospitals will require a fair amount of support from family and friends. Conversely, going private means all your needs will be taken care of by the hospital staff.

Accessing healthcare services

To access healthcare services in Mexico, without paying out of pocket, you’ll need to look into your health insurance options. This will either be a public health insurance scheme (INSABI or IMSS) or a private health insurance scheme. Learn about your options below:

Instituto de Salud para el Biernestar (INSABI)

Available to citizens and legal residents who don’t already have access to the more comprehensive IMSS, the INSABI program is said to provide treatment and medication free of charge. There are no subscription fees and unemployed people mainly use it.

As Mexico News Daily found, the service has been touted as completely free, but many patients are being asked to pay. Expat retirees are thus advised not to rely on the program as it’s not well-structured. Many hospital personnel are “completely disoriented” due to a lack of information.

Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS)

IMSS is designed for citizens or residents who are formally employed in Mexico (and their immediate family). Expat retirees who don’t fall in this category can sign up voluntarily for around 2,000 to 5,500 pesos a year. Under the service, users will get extensive healthcare.

The care received will depend largely on the hospital – those in big cities are generally better equipped. However, it is still not possible to avoid the long waiting times and overcrowding that plagues all public hospitals.

Private health insurance

The aforementioned public health insurance schemes only allow access to public hospitals. If you want to access private hospitals instead and would rather not shoulder the high costs, you should look into private health insurance for retirees.

Premium costs will depend on whether it’s a local or international plan, as well as factors relating to coverage, age, lifestyle, and pre-existing conditions. This will likely be on the pricer end for expat retirees, so you should contact a broker to find your best option.

Looking for retiree health insurance? Get in touch with Pacific Prime

Want to retire abroad but not entirely sold on the idea of Mexico? Learn more about healthcare in Latin American countries before you decide on a country. Whether you’re toying with the idea of retiring overseas or already packing your bags for the move, you can get in touch with Pacific Prime Latin America for help in securing retiree health insurance.

As a global health insurance broker, with over two decades of experience, we have a growing presence in Latin America. We work with top insurers in the region, such as Axa, Buga, Cigna, and more, to present you with vetted plans that suit your needs and budget. For no-obligation quotes or insurance advice, contact us today!

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