There are many public health programs in Mexico. Visitors to Mexico, however, usually seek care when they need it through private doctors and hospitals, both because it their wide availability and quality, and because the public health care systems of Mexico are generally not available to visitors.
Private providers will require you to provide proof of insurance before they treat you and perhaps a credit card imprint pending approval from your insurance company. Your international student insurance will prevent your receiving an unpleasant surprise if you present yourself to a private facility.
Some private hospitals accept insurance. Others require you to pay and will facilitate submitting your claim to your insurance company for reimbursement. It’s a good idea to check this issue before you are treated if you prefer to use your insurance rather that pay the provider and receive reimbursement from your insurance company later.
International Student Insurance can be invaluable if you have unexpected medical needs in Mexico. Your study abroad program or you host university may require you to purchase this insurance and provide proof of coverage before commencing your studies. A hospital stay, or medical evacuation if you need care outside of your city or outside of Mexico, can be quite expensive. Additionally, private providers may not treat you if you cannot show proof of insurance. This insurance is affordable, and highly recommended even if your program does not require it.
IMSS is the public health system that covers Mexicans and foreigners who work in Mexico. If you will be a student in Mexico and plan to work, you must apply to immigration for a visa with permission to work, and to be eligible for IMSS insurance. IMSS insurance is funded by a percentage of employees’ salaries, plus larger payments by employers into the system. IMSS insurance covers doctors, tests, treatments and medications.
A few of limitations of IMSS:
You should be aware that while health care and medications are frequently less expensive that in the home countries of many students, certain medications may be quite a bit more expensive. Pharmacies are plentiful in Mexican cities, and you can purchase both prescription and basic over-the-counter medications there. But if you have special medication needs, International Student Insurance can make your stay much easier, and less expensive.
International students should also know that coverage might not include injuries resulting from ‘hazardous activities,’ even those you do not consider dangerous. So check your insurance plan and carefully decide whether you want to go hang-gliding over the ocean or climb a volcano!