One of the most important decisions you’ll make moving to Mexico is what you decide to do about your health care. You have a couple of options.
You can self-insure (use your cash savings); make sure you have $20,000 USD liquid cash available to you within 24 hours, or
Purchase a Medical Evacuation Plan so that you can return home and use your insurance policy there, or
Purchase a short (0-6 month) or long (6+ months) term plan to cover your health costs here in Mexico. The cost is surprisingly affordable.
That’s the simple answer.
There’s one more option but we’ll save that for Part 2.
Making the decision that works for you might not be that simple, so I sat down with Brett LaMar, an Insurance Broker with WeExpats Insurance Solutions. Brett is a former US Marine and his wife are property owners in Amapas and have lived in PV for over 4 years.
What is the biggest misconception about healthcare in Mexico?
That health care in Mexico is affordable and expats can self-insure. Healthcare in Mexico is affordable when it comes to random physicals, labs, and the normal day to day things that can happen to us. But when a medical emergency such as a heart attack, stroke, broken hip or other issues arise, putting us in an emergency room with days of hospitalization or surgery, the bills start to rack up quite quickly. This is why it is important to insure yourself first, just like a car, home, or boat. You should be the most important item to insure and come first.
Do you need to be a permanent resident to obtain healthcare?
No, you do not need to be a Permanent or Temporary Resident to obtain a short or long term insurance policy. You can even obtain a policy on a tourist visa on arrival. Long term policies are recommended for expats living outside of their home country of passport for 6 months or more. Short term policies are recommended for stays of less than 6 months.
What is the difference between US and Mexico healthcare?
The United States is the most expensive place in the world for healthcare and much more than in Mexico. Firstly, this is due to wage. It would take a Mexican 8 hours to make the minimum wage of an American employee. Secondly, the administrative costs, prescription drugs, testing, higher wages and the cost of medical malpractice insurance is just much more in the United States than Mexico or anywhere else in the world. But when it comes to the service, state of the art facilities and doctors, Mexico is very competitive if not on par with what you would get in the USA. Many Mexican doctors are also trained in the USA as well.
Having a professional like Brett to help you maneuver through the system here is critical. For example, when you dial 911 or 066 in Mexico, the call goes to the city dispatcher. Most 911 calls are for the police or fire department. If you have a HEALTH emergency, the fastest way to get help is to call a private ambulance service. Once the ambulance arrives, you (or someone with you) will need to tell the ambulance which hospital to be taken to. Which service do I call? Which hospital do I use? These are all questions that Brett has the answer to.
Brett recommends that you put together a file to keep at home in the event of an emergency. Make sure that someone has a key to your home to access this file in case you are unable to bring it – even better if you can scan it and keep it in your phone. Things you will want to keep in this file are:
Copy of your passport and visa
List of medications
Contact info for family
Copy of your will if you own property in Mexico
Landlord info, if you rent
An emergency could be your own, someone you know or a mother nature event. You should think ahead about your plan in the event of a hurricane, for example. Who will take care of your pet should you need to evacuate? Who has access to your home? If you live alone, have a buddy you speak to often so that you know the other is okay.
And while we’re talking about preparation, register with your consulate. They already know you’re here but in the event of an emergency that could require evacuation, why keep them guessing?
If you’re having an emergency – at the very least – grab:
Credit card with $3,000 USD available (We’ll talk about why in Part 2)
Cell phone & charger
Passport and visa
Your general practitioner contact info
Family contact info
Now that you have your file and are on the way to the hospital, what can you expect when you get there? In Part 2 we’ll cover what to do when you arrive at the hospital & what things are likely to cost you.
Want to know how this applies to your circumstances? Click below to receive a free quote from Brett.