The healthcare system in Mexico aims to provide social welfare services to the largest number of citizens. The Social Security (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS) ensures access to medical care (both preventive care and outpatient care) for all salaried workers (via a mandatory scheme) as well as for self-employed workers and civil servants (via a voluntary scheme) after a waiting period of one month. Spouses and children under 25 are also covered under the Social Security system. The most deprived people (those who earn the minimum wage) are exempt from paying social contributions while the rest of the population pays a 10% contribution on their salary.
As the cost of medical expenses is high, particularly in private hospitals, most expatriates take out private healthcare insurance.
Visiting a doctor in Mexico
If you are registered with the public insurance system, your treating doctor will be automatically appointed by the IMSS and you will rarely be able to change doctors again. If you're not enrolled with the public system, you can choose your own treating doctor. Ask your embassy to help you find a doctor who speaks your language if you're not fluent in Spanish.
Certain GPs provide medical care directly in pharmacies for a ridiculously low fee (around €2). However, we recommended you consult a private doctor, especially as most of them do not work with the IMSS. Consultation fees will be higher (500 pesos i.e. around €30) but you will be reimbursed if you have private healthcare insurance.
In the public sector, you need to see your treating doctor to get a referral to a specialist. This is not the case if you have private healthcare insurance. Like GPs, consultation fees for specialist doctors vary greatly depending on whether they work with the IMSS or are private.
Being admitted to hospital in Mexico
Public hospitals are more affordable than private facilities and the medical care is acceptable, but they lack staff and equipment.
The quality of medical care in private hospitals is similar - if not equal - to the USA. Some hospitals may ask you to show your private health insurance card or provide a document proving that you can pay for your medical expenses before admission.
In case of emergency: dial 911
Buying medication in Mexico
Most drugs in Mexico can be bought over-the-counter. Drugs are very affordable and much cheaper than those sold in the USA.
Get your health insurance for Mexico
MSH can help you design the best international health insurance plan to suit your needs.
Going for less than a year?
We have the right health insurance plan to cover you for 1 to 12 months, whether it's for a personal project, an apprenticeship, a working holiday or any other reason.
Going for a year or more?
Explore our comprehensive and highly flexible health insurance solutions to protect you and your family while you're abroad.
Laure and Robert moved to Singapore in 2014 for work - but they ended up starting a family there too! She told MSH that she was pregnant and was amazed by all the support she got. First she received a practical guide on pregnancy (what to do at each stage, medical exams etc.) and then a member of the team called her to explain all her guarantees personally and advise her on the best place to give birth. The day her daughter was born, a gift pack arrived with a growth chart and a baby toy, with all good wishes from MSH. And now there's another one on the way...
Matthieu was hiking in a canyon in Peru when he accidently fell down several meters and fractured his kneecap and elbow: "After 12 days in a local hospital, I was sent back to France where I spent 2 more weeks in hospital and months in physiotherapy" he remembers. Matthieu's hospitalization, repatriation and rehabilitation expenses were all covered by MSH: "Without my private health insurance, it would have been a nightmare: €16,000 for the hospital and €50,000 for my repatriation with two air ambulances - can you imagine?"
Tanguy subscribed to Start’Expat to cover his gap year in Australia. He was out roller-skating one day when he slipped and blacked out for a few minutes. A passerby directed him to the nearest hospital for a scan. Fortunately, there was nothing serious and he was delighted to learn that all the expenses from €400 would be paid by MSH in advance, saving him a total of €513 -that's a lot of money for a student!
Duration: 1 year maximum Leadtime: 2 days after your application has been accepted
Application requirements are quite similar for all nationalities, however some have to supply more documents.
To apply for a visa in Mexico, you have to:
- Be aged 18-30 inclusive
- Be without dependents
- Have a valid passport
- Have proof of adequate savings
- Have a clean criminal record
- Have a medical certificate proving that you're in good health
- Have international health insurance to cover the length of your stay
- Have never had a working holiday visa for Mexico before (1st participation).
How to get your Visa
If you're a French national applying in French:
To get your visa for Mexico, the first thing you have to do is gather together all the documents you need for your application: the form (http://www.gob.mx/sre#acciones), identity photos, passport, covering letter, bank statements, proof of your home address, criminal record extract, medical certificate, return flight tickets.
You will then need to book an appointment with the Mexican embassy to present your application. After that, you'll have to wait for a response from the Mexican authorities who will inform you whether your application has been accepted or not.