Does Mexico Have Universal Health Care?

As part of your move to Mexico, it’s essential that you understand its healthcare system. Pacific Prime Latin America provides an overview of both public and private systems with helpful details on signing up for their two-tier healthcare system and what services and clinics to expect in Mexico.

Mexico has accomplished an extraordinary feat: in less than 10 years, their government has successfully enrolled 52.6 million uninsured citizens into public medical insurance programs, moving closer than any other nation to universal coverage. This remarkable accomplishment was enabled by reforms passed in 2004 that aligned Mexico’s psychiatric system with global recommendations issued by WHO.

Prior to this landmark legislation, many Mexicans were left without access to affordable, quality healthcare. Today, however, most of Mexico is insured through one of two publicly funded health insurance programs in Mexico – the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS and INSABI.

To be eligible for either of these programs in Mexico, individuals must be either citizens or legal residents and employed by either a Mexican company or federal agency, working formal employment (i.e. IMSS or INSABI programs) or nonformal employment (Seguro Popular program), though Seguro Popular fell short in meeting its initial goals of unifying segmented healthcare systems into one comprehensive public healthcare system.

Signing up for either the IMSS or INSABI program should be straightforward for those eligible to enroll. A majority of Mexican employers offer the IMSS as an employee benefit, so simply letting your workplace HR staff know is all it takes – your employer will arrange everything else, including setting up paycheck deductions! Also available to legally resident citizens and residents is INSABI which offers coverage through payroll deduction.

Consejo de Salubridad General oversees healthcare facilities nationwide and ensures they comply with international quality and patient safety standards. In addition, Sistema Nacional de Certificacion de Establecimientos de Atencion Medica certifies healthcare organizations alongside JCI – widely considered the gold standard in accreditation – who together form one comprehensive system.

As Mexico has an efficient healthcare system overall, accessing care in rural areas may prove more challenging. This is particularly evident in Chiapas State where most residents live below poverty line and few healthcare services exist for vulnerable individuals and communities. As an effective solution, local partners have collaborated with Instituto Nacional de Salud to provide primary and maternal healthcare services in rural Chiapas for vulnerable residents – since 2011 Partners In Health has supported nine rural primary care clinics, birthing centers and community hospitals staffed and run by themselves in Chiapas State alone!