The healthcare system in Mexico

There are two types of health insurance scheme available to you in Mexico: one public and one private.

THE PUBLIC HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

There is a Social Security scheme in Mexico: the IMSS (el Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social) which provides entitlement to healthcare, medical assistance, social protection and social services.

Social Security includes a compulsory and a voluntary scheme where benefits and costs vary:
- The compulsory scheme is for salaried workers,
- The voluntary scheme is for self-employed workers or public service employees.

Social protection applies to the insured, their spouse/partner, children (under 16 years of age or under 25 if they are students) and parents (if they live with the insured).

Health cover provides preventive and curative services. You must have contributed to the scheme for at least 4 weeks prior to receiving benefits.
People on low incomes can receive free medical care in a clinic or "instituto de solidaridad" through the IMSS Solidaridad programme.

What cover does the IMSS provide?

As a member of the scheme, you are covered for hospital expenses, medical care, surgery and medication. In the event of illness or accident which prevents you from working, the IMSS pays you a portion of your salary for up to 52 weeks.

When you join the Social Security scheme, it assigns you a doctor. You cannot change doctors (except in special and justified cases).

How much does the IMSS cost?

There is a minimum wage in Mexico at which Mexicans are exempt from paying Social Security contributions; these are paid in full by the employer. However, if you earn more than the minimum wage, you will have to pay a share of the Social Security contributions every month, amounting to approximately 10% of your salary.

What to do:

To qualify for Social Security benefits, your employer will enrol you in the IMSS. If they don’t, you can do it yourself by going to the IMSS website and completing the application form.
You will then receive your enrolment certificate and a Social Security number.
Your Social Security number is essential to qualify for health cover.

THE PRIVATE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

You can also take out private insurance. You can then go to any doctor or clinic and your treatment will be fully reimbursed, depending on the terms of your policy.

Most foreign expats in Mexico and the majority of people with living standards similar to the French middle-classes take out private insurance.

Date of publication May 3 2012