Medical tourism in Mexico

The gulf between public and private healthcare in Mexico

Medical tourism in Mexico

While access to state healthcare in Mexico is still free for all expats working for Mexican businesses, many still opt to purchase additional private health insurance, in spite of the fact that payments towards the national service are automatically deducted from their wages.

The Mexican healthcare system is divided into three tiers: basic health care access for citizens who are unemployed; the national service that most people have access to; and the private system for which expats need private insurance to be covered.

Universal healthcare in Mexico was only introduced in 2012 and the difference in quality between the public and private systems is already becoming increasingly clear, for which there may partly be the growing phenomena of medical tourism to thank.

The healthcare gulf of Mexico

Mexico has also long been one of the most popular destinations for medical tourism , with foreigners from across the globe flocking in droves to access high quality treatment for considerably less money than they would pay back home.

Private hospitals and clinics therefore have much more money to employ world-class doctors, trial state-of-the-art treatment and to invest in their services. Indeed, now over two thirds of the hospitals in Mexico are private with 57% of business expenditure going into private healthcare  alone. When you also take into account that 50% of all public hospitals have less than 50 beds, it’s not difficult to decipher where the disparities have arisen from.  

While Mexico has long proved popular amongst medical tourists from the United States, given its close proximity and the fact that many Mexican doctors train in the U.S, it is fast becoming a popular destination for all manner of foreigners seeking medical care abroad. This includes people from countries like Canada and the UK who are covered by their own national health services, but don’t want to wait a long a long time for treatment. However, the high quality and relatively inexpensive medical care in Mexico is also attracting a whole other breed of foreigner to its shores: expats.

A better quality of life

For many people fed up of paying high premiums for their health insurance back home, moving to Mexico as an expat guarantees a fairly decent quality of life with much lower living costs. This is particularly attractive to the over-65s or retirees, who have more health concerns to worry about and don’t want to lose a significant chunk of their pension paying for medical treatment.

Expats mostly take out health insurance policies that will cover them for treatment in Mexico, which works out much cheaper for insurance companies anyway. The larger health insurers like Cigna Global  will also have access to most of the top-class facilities around the country, giving them more options when looking for treatment.  

However, this increase in investment into the private system is only increasing the gap in funding, as many expats who move to Mexico don’t actually work for Mexican companies, so don’t pay into the national health system. So while expats are lured by the promises of great healthcare when they think of relocating to Mexico, it’s important to realise the need to take out additional health insurance while doing so; otherwise it can be difficult and expensive to access the world-class services that are available there.

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