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What is the cost of international health insurance in Mexico and Latin America?

Mexico welcomes expats with open arms – as does much of Latin America. It’s common for Mexicans to speak English, making communication much easier than in many foreign countries. Healthcare providers also often speak English so you can be confident that you’ll get the medical assistance you need should you require it. Paperwork, however, will likely be in Spanish.

One major concern that expats have when moving to Mexico and Latin America is the cost of health insurance. After all, no one wants to be tied into a costly, recurring payment plan. This Pacific Prime Latin America article takes a closer look at the cost of international health insurance in Mexico and Latin America.

A brief overview of healthcare in Mexico

Before diving into the cost of health insurance, it’s helpful to have an understanding of healthcare in Mexico for tourists and expats alike. Mexico’s universal healthcare system consists of three tiers: public and free (INSABI), public and paid (IMSS), and private.

Public (free vs. paid)

Access to the public healthcare system in Mexico either falls into the free or paid category.

Public and free (INSABI)

Instituto Nacional de Salud para el Bienestar, or INSABI for short, offers free medical services in Mexico to those who don’t get social security from the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS). It’s available to anyone who presents a birth certificate or Mexican identity number (Unique Population Registry Code), with no sign-up required.

Public and paid (IMSS)

If you’re working in Mexico, your employer will process payments that give you access to the IMSS. Similarly, you can pay for IMSS coverage even if you’re unemployed, self-employed, or retired.

Note that federal employees can get assistance from the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE). 

INSABI, IMSS, and ISSSTE all offer access to the same level of care through the same public healthcare system. The main difference is that the national insurance options are for the working public, while INSABI takes care of members of society who do not have social security.


Private healthcare in Mexico is a popular option for expats and wealthy Mexicans. Even though a mere 8% of the Mexican population has private health insurance, private institutions contribute to around half of total healthcare spending. This could be because about 60% of hospitals in the country are private.

However, private expenditure would still remain lower if over 8% of the Mexican population had insurance that could safeguard them from out-of-pocket payments whenever the unexpected occurs. According to the World Bank, out-of-pocket spending by residents accounts for 41.28% of the country’s healthcare expenditure.

Another reason that private hospitals are so popular is because of the higher level of care that they provide in comparison to the public system. For an in-depth read on healthcare services in Mexico, check out this article.

How much does international health insurance cost in Mexico and Latin America?

One of the main concerns when purchasing health insurance in a new place is how much it’s going to cost you.

As an individual, you can expect to pay around USD $400 annually to enter the IMSS, though the exact amount depends on how much you earn. While the cost of international health insurance in Mexico and Latin America varies, the average is USD $4,460 per year for individuals and USD $12,412 for families.

The key drivers influencing health insurance in Mexico include:

  • Claims in the first year of enrollment – The likelihood of policyholders making claims for reimbursement in the first year of plan enrollment is higher in Mexico than in other countries, so insurers adjust their premiums accordingly.
  • Higher healthcare costs for international healthy plan policyholders – Healthcare providers in Mexico are known for overcharging international health insurance plan policyholders, though insurers consider these costs when setting premiums.
  • Insurance fraud and dishonest practice – Dishonest practice like misrepresented treatment for a guaranteed insurance payout is a problem in Mexico, leading to insurance fraud and higher premiums.
  • Use of Mexico and Latin America plans in the US – Latin America-based plans with international coverage may be widely used in the US, where healthcare costs are exceptionally high. Consequently, premiums may go up at renewal time.

The cost of health insurance in Mexico and Latin America (100 countries in total), key drivers, and more can be found in our free-to-download Cost of Health Insurance Report 2020-2021.

Does US health insurance work in Mexico?

One question we often get asked is: does US health insurance work in Mexico? Most of the time, the majority of US health insurance plans provide little to no benefits for US citizens residing in Mexico. The reason for this is that most plans cover US citizens in their state of residence while the rest typically cover throughout the US. US health insurance plans usually don’t provide coverage outside of the states. It’s advisable to go over your policy with your insurance provider or broker if you’re not sure.

Get expert advice from a licensed broker like Pacific Prime Latin America

The easiest way to make sure you get the best international health insurance in Mexico, Latin America, or anywhere in the world, is to work with a reputable broker like Pacific Prime Latin America.

As a broker, we compare plans from leading insurers to ensure you get the right one for your needs, and within your budget. We also provide additional services such as claims assistance and renewal support at no additional cost.

Whether you’re looking for international health insurance in Mexico, family health insurance, or other health insurance plans, Pacific Prime Latin America is your one-stop broker. Contact us for impartial advice and a free plan comparison today.

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Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime Latin America
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs