Health care in Mexico is a major concern to expats who decide to move to the Lake Chapala area. After all, we all want to stay as healthy as possible to enjoy all the activities available Lakeside. So in this blog I will provide a brief overview of the options available for future expats thinking of making the move to Lakeside.
I will begin by stating the obvious: health care and health care insurance is a complicated subject and is totally dependent on your own state of health (both past and present), your needs, and your financial wealth. Therefore, make sure to do your due diligence in locating the right option(s) for you.
There are two government sponsored options for health care.
The first is called IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social). It is similar to the Canadian socialized health care system and is generally for the working Mexican. Employers in Mexico are required to pay into the program to cover health care for their workers.
As expats, we are also able to get on board this system for around $350 USD per year depending on age. This figure is derived by assuming you are working a full time job at minimum wage. Which as a retiree that's exactly what we are doing. :-)
IMSS has been slowly tightening their filters for pre-existing conditions and therefore more people are being turned down. Note: If you don't get accepted your initial application fee is not returned to you.
IMSS works on a step system. The first year you pay into the program only basic services are covered. As you pay into the second year, more is available to you and by the third year you have full coverage.
(Personal note: I have a friend living here who tried the system and found it to be about as useful as the Canadian system. Long wait times and many canceled or re-scheduled appointments due to an overburdened system. He eventually had a scope done on his knee but has since canceled his plan with IMSS and has joined the Seguro Popular program.)
The other Mexican medical system is called Seguro Popular. It has the benefit of being free of charge and was designed to offer basic health care to the people not covered by IMSS. Take note that you can only be on one of the systems, not both.
Seguro Popular covers all pre-existing conditions and it doesn't matter how old you are. It offers general coverage for most things but due to under funding, wait times can be long. It is important to note that you need to be a resident in order to join the plan, so tourist visas won't cut it.
The other option, whether by itself or in conjunction with one of the above programs, is to purchase private insurance. This can be in the form of catastrophic insurance (if supplemental to the above) or comprehensive. Plans vary widely from company to company depending on your risk tolerance and how much you are willing to pay. Things like level of care (type of hospital), deductibles and maximum policy levels all need to be considered. Finding the right coverage for your particular situation can be time consuming but worth it.
The final option is 'pay as you go' as quality health care in Mexico is inexpensive by most standards.
For example, I have a friend who underwent emergency hernia surgery. Total cost for a team of 3 surgeons and a 2-night stay in a boutique hotel in Guadalajara came to $2,600 USD.
My partner’s father came down from Canada for elective hip replacement surgery when he was told he would be on the wait list for a year. The total cost for his surgery at the best hospital in Guadalajara was under $13,000 USD and it was completed within 2 weeks.
So for many, self insuring and the 'pay as you go' plan may be a viable option. This could also be combined with an appropriate catastrophic or evacuation policy such as Skymed (see my other blog) if a person has health care available to them in their home country.
So don't let health care worries prevent you from making the move to Lake Chapala! Whereas in Canada, for instance, the arrangements are all taken care of for you, in Mexico it takes a little more work and effort on your behalf to piece together the right coverage at the right price.
Hope to see you soon! Please share this article with your friends on Facebook. Thanks for reading!