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What is the Cost of Treatment in Mexico?

If you’re considering moving to Mexico, one of your main concerns is likely healthcare. Fortunately, healthcare services in Mexico are generally of high standards and even excellent in several places. Many healthcare professionals in Mexico have received at least partial training in the US, and many continue their training in the US or Europe.

In this Pacific Prime Latin America article, we’ll explore Mexican healthcare and answer questions like:

  • Does Mexico have free healthcare?
  • Does Mexico have good health care?
  • What is the cost of MRI in Mexico?
  • What is the cost of private health insurance in Mexico?

Overview of Healthcare in Mexico

First-rate hospitals can be found in most medium to large cities in Mexico. One of the advantages is that the cost of treatment in Mexico is typically half of or less than what you’d expect to pay in the US. The price difference also applies to prescription drugs. Prescription drugs manufactured in Mexico usually cost around 30-60% less than they cost in the US.

While expats living in or considering moving to Mexico can have confidence in Mexican healthcare, it’s worth noting that the Mexican healthcare system can be different from the system that you’re used to.

The main difference is that the healthcare system is not driven by profit. Therefore, decisions regarding your care and well-being are in your best interest instead of based on a profit motive. Doctors are happy to spend time with you; many even make house visits.

How to Participate in Mexico’s National Healthcare Program

The program consists of two main systems: The IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social) system and the Seguro Popular system.

The IMSS System

Designed for employees across Mexico, the IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social) system is a part of the national social security system. Employers and employees are required to contribute to the IMSS plan every month, which is further funded by the Federal Government.

Expats who hold either permanent or temporary residency status are allowed to apply for the IMSS program. You can start the voluntary participation process by visiting your local IMSS office or online. If you’re not fluent in Spanish, you should bring an interpreter to help you since you’ll be expected to fill out multiple forms. Be aware that completing the registration process might take several visits.

At the time of writing, participation costs around USD $40 per month, which is good news for most. However, if you have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, you may be prohibited from participating in the program. On the other hand, other pre-existing conditions may require a waiting period before enrollment.


To answer the most asked question, ‘Does Mexico Have Free Healthcare?’ – Yes, and thanks to the EI INSABI. El INSABI (el Instituto Nacional de Salud para el Bienestar) is a completely different system with its own rules and procedures and even its own participating facilities throughout Mexico.

While the IMSS program is authorized for employers, employees, and those who voluntarily participate, El INSABI offers free healthcare and medications to anyone who is not affiliated with another Mexican social security health program.

Unlike its predecessor, Seguro Popular, El INSABI claims to be free of charge. Anyone who qualifies can access free healthcare and medications. Additionally, expats have an easier time qualifying for this system than with Seguro Popular, since there are only three requirements:

  1. The person must be located inside Mexico
  2. They must not be part of another social security system.
  3. They must present a birth certificate, Mexican ID card, or CURP (an ID code for Mexican citizens and lawful residents).

While Seguro Popular made it necessary to sign-up before receiving any benefits, El INSABI simplifies the process by requiring you to show any of the documents listed above to participate.

Private Health Insurance

Most expats, foreigners, and foreign residents find private health insurance to be the ideal fit for their needs. Since Mexican healthcare plans are only offered in public hospitals, receiving treatment entails long wait times, overcrowding, and basic levels of care. Private hospitals, conversely, rarely have a wait time, are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, provide access to specialists, and have a higher standard overall.

One cost-saving strategy that many private health insurance policyholders use is to purchase a lower-cost policy with a high deductible and pay for basic medications and healthcare out of pocket. However, be sure to adjust deductibles with caution, so you don’t incur more costs in the long run.

Additionally, if you live in Mexico part-time then you can keep your insurance from your home country and buy medical evacuation insurance in case you get sick or injured and need to return home for medical care.

What is the Cost of Private Healthcare in Mexico?

According to the cost estimates given to ITIJ by Isabelle Moins, Chief Executive Officer of April International Care France, here’s how much it costs:

  • GP consultation – M$1,200 (~USD $61)
  • Cesarean section delivery – M$120,000 (~USD $6084)
  • Appendectomy may cost up to M$200,000 (~USD 10,140)

Hospital System and Cost of Medical Checkups in Mexico

Mexico’s hospital system is a combination of private and government-operated hospitals and clinics, and almost all of them will quote the cost of treatment beforehand. This is a relief for most since you won’t be faced with an exorbitant bill at the end, and costs must be paid before leaving the hospital. Elective procedures are typically paid upfront, with no hidden fees at the end.

It’s common for doctors to speak English since they have usually received some training in the US. The quality of care is often excellent as well. Hospital nursing care, however, is different from many other places, with friends and family expected to offer general bedside care in government hospitals. Private hospitals typically offer a nursing experience that is more similar to what you would expect in the US or Europe.

Moreover, Mexico is now thriving as a medical tourism destination since the cost of surgeries and other procedures tends to be about one-third of the price just north of the border in the US. Here are some examples of standard out-of-pocket fees charged for services and procedures in Mexico. It’s worth noting that prices will vary according to your exact medical needs and location.

Treatment Type Price in USD $
Routine Checkup $12 to $15
Complete Blood Work $50 to $80
X-Ray $24 to $30
MRI $300 to $500

Pacific Prime is Here to Help

Healthcare services in Mexico are excellent and far less expensive than in the United States, so it’s no surprise that medical tourism is thriving in Mexico. The hospital systems blends private and public institutions, with transparent charges and pricing.

There are two major healthcare systems in Mexico: IMSS and Seguro Popular. Though expats are welcome to take advantage of these systems, there may be limitations due to the expats’ pre-existing conditions.

However, private health insurance is a popular choice among expats because it allows for faster access to high-quality care.

If you’re looking for expert advice on Mexican healthcare or looking to secure private health insurance, then get in touch with Pacific Prime Latin America. As a reputable insurance broker, we compare health insurance plans from the best insurance providers locally and globally to ensure you get the ideal plan for your needs and budget. Contact us today to receive expert advice or a no-obligation quote and plan comparison.

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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