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Inpatient vs outpatient insurance: Key differences explained

Home to more than 18,000 hospitals, Latin America is a popular medical tourism destination. Though some Latin American countries provide free, high-quality care to their citizens, this is not the case for all. That’s why securing an international health insurance plan is your best bet in avoiding surprise costs while also ensuring your access to top medical treatment. Under an international plan, you will receive both inpatient and outpatient benefits, and so much more. Get to know your expat health insurance options in Mexico. Today’s Pacific Prime Latin America article will explore the key differences between inpatient and outpatient insurance.

Individual health insurance blog

What is inpatient insurance?

Inpatient insurance covers inpatient care, or any medical services that require admission into a hospital. As such, it tends to involve serious ailments and trauma requiring prolonged monitoring and care. You would need to be hospitalized overnight or longer.

Inpatient insurance coverage can include:

  • Semi-private or private hospital room during surgery
  • Intensive care rooms
  • Medical fees during hospitalization
  • Surgical expenses
  • Ambulance fees
  • Anesthetist and operating theater charges
  • Diagnostic tests, such as X-Rays, CAT & PET scans, MRIs, laboratory tests, and more
  • Organ transplants

What is outpatient insurance?

Outpatient insurance covers outpatient care, or medical services that don’t require a prolonged stay at a facility. Treatments tend to be less expensive and less involved.

Outpatient insurance coverage can include:

  • General practitioner consultation fees
  • Specialist fees
  • Prescription medications
  • Vaccinations
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Scheduled health check-ups
  • Wellness and prevention services
  • Alternative treatments

Note that not all health insurance plans with outpatient benefits also cover alternative therapies, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine. If they do, they may not cover all aspects of the treatment. Always double-check with your insurer/policy to avoid paying out of pocket.

The differences between inpatient and outpatient insurance in Latin America

The main differences between the two are the treatment options, costs of treatment, and if hospitalization is required. As mentioned, inpatient care requires an overnight stay or longer, and is more involved and costly, whereas outpatient care is the opposite.

Whether the medical services you receive are outpatient or inpatient is determined by whether your doctor writes an order to admit you formally into their hospital. Your inpatient insurance coverage begins the moment you are admitted into a hospital.

Public vs private healthcare

Medical treatment tends to be cheaper in Latin America compared to in the US. In fact, you can even receive free emergency treatment in countries like Argentina. That said, you might still want to secure private health insurance in case of difficult conditions or to gain access to higher-quality private care.

Generally, private medical facilities tend to be expat-friendly. To elaborate, English-speaking staff are aplenty. They are also well-trained and provide high-quality and consistent care – both of which are missing elements in public facilities.

Keep in mind that some private hospitals and clinics won’t accept you for treatment unless you can prove that you have private health insurance or enough money to pay for treatment. This makes it all the more crucial that you have in hand the best health insurance in Mexico.

Looking to secure the best health insurance in Mexico?

Look no further. As an insurance brokerage with over 20 years of experience, Pacific Prime Latin America is here to help. We leverage our partnership with top insurers to offer you a wide range of insurance products from international health insurance and travel insurance to family insurance.

Get a free quote now with our online quotation tool! Contact our team of expert insurance advisors today, who will find you the best plans that balance your needs and budget!

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime Latin America
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung