Thursday, October 10, 2013

Moving to Mexico - What about Healthcare?


This is usually the third question people ask me about living in Mexico. Invariably the first question is, "Is it safe?" and  "Aren't you afraid?"

After I swallow my exasperation at those first two questions, I'm ready to settle down and answer sensible questions.

Healthcare is very important.

Services available in San Miguel de Allende are a general hospital and a private hospital, MED TEC 100.
There are many clinics, labs and specialty clinics.  There are dentists, doctors, chiropractors, and homeopathic people among others.  There is much "alternative" care which covers a gamut of things that I know nothing about.

I've used the same doctors, a cardiologist, an eye doctor, an internist and dermatologist for all the years I've been here who are connected now with MED TEC 100.  I was hospitalized twice in what, at the time was the private hospital De La Fe and had care from the appropriate doctors.  I've been more then satisfied with the care and the costs.

My cardiologist and eye doctor are well known by their colleagues in the USA.  Both came highly recommended.

I don't have insurance in Mexico but the cost for 3 days in the hospital was around $300 with a Dr bill of less then $100. I've had stitches in my cheek when I fell which cost less then $100 in the ER room.  A doctor's office visit is 500 pesos, $40USD.  You pay in cash - no checks, no credit cards.  The hospital now will take US and Mexican credit cards.  Many years ago it would not.

So basically, an ex-pat is self insured unless he joins one of the government operated health plans.

Seguro Popular is for the people who have the least amount of money.  One signs up as I understand it.
Then is told if they are covered. One goes to a clinic for a physical and then is assigned to a doctor.  I've never signed up for any of these programs, so I'm just repeating what people who have done and have told me.  Basically Seguro Popular uses the services at the General Hospital.

IMSS is a program with its own clinics and hospitals.  There is a clinic in San Miguel and a hospital either in Queretaro or Celaya.  I'm not sure which.  One must go to Guanajuato to sign up or use a facilitator to handle it for you.  I believe that after a year, you have no problem having pre-existing conditions paid for.  It costs about $300USD for a year's coverage. 

Recently I was told that Met Life has health insurance coverage in Mexico.  I could not, after trying many times, get information about premiums, coverage or any other details.  If you want to know more about that I suggest you contact a US agent and see if he can put you in contact with an appropriate individual who can answer your questions.  This would be the first US insurance company with medical coverage that I have been able to find that covers people living full time in Mexico.

Of course I have Medicare in the USA, thankfully.  I also have prescription coverage that I pay for, just in case.

Many people have Med Evac policies through various groups.  SkyMed is one and there are several others.  From what I've been told, the premium per person is about $400 USD per year.  Some of the companies allow you to choose where you want to be flown to as long as a Dr. signs off on it.  Others send you to the "nearest" appropriate medical facility in the USA.  Research on your part will turn up many companies who provide these services.

US health insurance Part B does not cover ex-pats in Mexico UNLESS you live here only part time and something happens to you during the first six months you are out of country.  It's a dicey deal.

Usually those policies require that your prime residence be in the USA.  I'm sure there are exceptions but I'm not aware of what they are.  Check with your insurer to find out.

There are good facilities as well in Queretaro and Celaya.  There is a German orthopedic surgeon in Queretaro who has worked miracles for people with back, hip and other problems that couldn't be resolved in the USA through surgery.  There is a heart institute and many other specialties handled there.  Queretaro is a city of two million people.  It also has many multinational factories and corporations located there.  Many people find the services they want there.

Lots of people who have Medicare fly or drive to the USA a couple of times a year for medical care and checkups.  There is a large VA facility in San Antonio, Texas and also Mc Allen, Texas along with Houston, Texas.

In summation, do your homework.  If you are a sickly person now, need medical care frequently, are severely handicapped, then possibly this is not the place to be.  It is something to investigate.

On the other hand, I do know of people who have moved their parents or spouse here because the private home care is so caring and thorough and inexpensive, that the quality of life of someone who cannot get out much or is severely handicapped can be better then being in a facility in another country.

Hopefully this has given you some information.  I have very much appreciated those that have added comments with information that I am not aware of.  And, some who have corrected those comments that were not complete or accurate.  Thanks so much.

Tomorrow, I will finish this series up.  Tomorrow will be why people leave...........what can't you find here that you HAVE to have..........and a few ways to save money.

Stay tuned.
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11 comments:

Nancy said...

Babs, I have heath insurance here in mazatlan throughAXA that is first class. As you know I recently had ovarian cancer surgery and chemo, all was paid without any hassle at all, with first class care. I am 59 years old and it costs me 1300 usd per year with a 35,000 peso deductible.

Babs said...

Wow, Nancy, that is incredible news. I want to pass that information onto my son who is raising two children here in Mexico without insurance. Was all your treatment within Mexico?

You have been such an inspiration throughout your illness.........you are a trooper.

jennifer rose said...

There are many private health insurance companies providing coverage to people living full-time in Mexico, and without regard to the insured's nationality. It is absolutely not necessary to contact a US insurance agent. Simply contact a Mexican insurance agent, who should be able to sell a variety of health insurance policies providing a broad range of coverage, from HMO-esque coverage limited to a small pool or providers to Mayo Clinic plans to plans which provide coverage anywhere on the planet. GNP, Inbursa, MetLife, even banks are in the private health insurance business. The only hitch is that some of these companies will not insure a new applicant who is over the age of 65.

Here are links to just a few private health insurers:
http://metlife.com.mx/wps/portal/seguros/
http://www.inbursa.com/
https://www.gnp.com.mx

Seguro Popular is intended as a safety net for those who have no other health insurance coverage. It’s intended for the poor. When I read about gringos, particularly in San Miguel de Allende, boasting about using Seguro Popular, and when it’s clear that these foreigners have sufficient resources to pay for their own medical care without poaching services provided by the Mexican government, it makes my blood boil. Those gringos should be deeply ashamed of themselves for acting like pigs at the trough. If a foreigner has sufficient resources to live in Mexico, that foreigner should be expected to fully pay for his or her medical care instead of expecting the Mexican government to foot the bill.


Information about IMSS can be found at http://imss.gob.mx/Pages/index.html. While the program is fine for certain purposes, the load upon its resources is tremendous. Clients may have to wait hours for an appointment, endure shortages of medicines, and receive a quality of care and attention that can be below that which is administered in private institutions.

Babs said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Jennifer. GREAT information. I sure wish you would write a blog again about all this information that you know so well and me, not so much......

I agree with your portrayal of Seguro Popular. Unfortunately it seems that it was promoted to the ex-pat community. Why, I have no idea. I too agree that to take from the poor when we have so much is unconscionable.

Thanks for all the info on the private insurance lines. I've never seen ads or heard of anything about these companies. I heard about Met Life from a man who lives in Morelia. I certainly have no idea to find an agent for Metlife in San Miguel! I tried.
Great info........folks, from a long time resident of Mexico who is also a Mexican citizen!

calypso said...

Just to second Bab's suggestion that Jennifer start back her Blog - miss that a lot!

Babs said...

I'll third that Calypso! Jennifer is without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable, witty, people I know. I read her writings long before I met her.
Write Jennifer, write! We all miss you.

Naomi Julia said...
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Alfaj Ripon said...
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Beth Murphy said...

With understanding respect to Jennifer, I am an American with two autoimmune conditions, one rare and extremely painful when in flare-ups. The condition does not qualify for disability even though I am partially disabled and the medications and procedures that are most helpful are not covered by insurance or any Medicare drug policy. I have exhausted all discretionary income on these uninsured services which have allowed me to go from wondering if I could survive the pain another day to being very well managed. I am very happy about this but had to reduce my retirement income to a level that is not sustainable in the US. I am moving to Mexico to stretch my few dollars and I will research and take advantage of all affordable insurance programs, both private and public, available. I do believe I am not alone--many of us making this move feel we are forced to, and are grateful to the Mexican people for the many warm welcomes we receive. But we have to watch every penny and we hope that people do not assume that just because we are ex-pats, that we have money. Thank you for all the information you provided.

Babs said...

Dear Beth- I'm so so sorry to hear of your auto immune conditions. It must be terrible to be in pain and have no help from your healthcare provider.

I think the key in moving to Mexico would be living near a major city with good medical facilities. Mexico is not as informed about new and leading edge procedures, hence, it is important that before you locate somewhere that you check to see if those facilities you need will be available.

I speak from having seen a man and wife have to relocate more then 3 hours from where they owned a home because she could not get the care she needed any closer.

Just a bit of info that I hope will help. You must have IMSS for a year before you will be eligible for any coverage, unless that has changed recently.

Good luck and thank you for taking time to write a comment on the blog.

Scott McRobie said...
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