Retire in Mexico: Health Care

Retirement in Mexico
and Health Care

As you move toward your goal of retirement in Mexico, it’s helpful to

What about Mexico’s famous pharmacies?

understand the health care “system.” I put “system” in quotes because it’s not as systematic as in the U.S. and definitely not as systematic as in Canada, which has its advantages and disadvantages.

e-book Click here to see a description of an e-book that honestly talks about expat life in Mexico.


“Julia Taylor writes about living in Mexico… with the definite knowledge of an insider. She shows us a side of the Mexican people and their belief systems that you would never find out about, unless like her, you really get to know the people.

“If you want real insights into Mexico, its people, and how to live like a Mexican, this is a must read.”

Suzanne Marie Bandick

Author of: Only in Mexico, You Say? The Humorous Side of Living in Mexico

I’ll start by describing the basics of how people who live in Mexico access health care services and branch from there into specific topics. You can decide how you might fit into the picture once you retire in Mexico. Having a general picture of how it all works will help you to make a smooth transition and to take advantage of the advantages while softening your exposure to the disadvantages.
Mexico has two different types of health care, which are referred to as private (particular) and public (seguro).  You can decide which you want to participate in when you live or retire in Mexico.

Private vs. Public Health Care in Mexico


There are three major groups in the public health care system. They are IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or Mexican Social Security Institute) which is available to many people working at private institutions as well as immigrants to Mexico—including retired people, ISSSTE (Instituto de Seguridad y Servicio Sociales de los Trabajadores or Security and Social Services Institute for Workers) which is available to employees who work for the state and other public institutions, and seguro popular, for all those not covered under IMSS.  These services are organized on a national level and most employers who provide benefits—as they are legally required to—pay into IMSS for their employees. Beneficiaries can receive their services without paying anything in addition to what their employer pays on their behalf. Retirees who opt into IMSS pay for their own coverage.  Seguro popular is available for retirees, and provides services on a sliding scale.

The rest of this section has been moved to the all new Second Edition of Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.

Private Doctors

Private health care in Mexico can be terrible or it can be wonderful. It depends on what you make of it. When you retire in Mexico you could have the kind of personalized, professional care that you can only dream of in Canada or at your HMO in the U.S.

On a service for service basis, the cost of care in Mexico is much lower than in the U.S. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you have to pay for it out of pocket (unless you opt to pay for health insurance), which can be quite expensive if you are earning in pesos.

Private health care in Mexico isn’t a formal system at all. Doctors….

The rest of this section has been moved to the all new Second Edition of Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.

Finding a Doctor You Can Communicate with in English

Due to their common experiences, other expatriates are generally the best people to ask for referrals. Of course, when you first live or retire in Mexico, you might not know anyone, so you could start with the yellow pages under “medicos” (and there are tons; over 60 pages in the Cuernavaca yellow pages!). Those who speak English list that in their advertisement. Another good option is to see if there is a Newcomers club in your town and ask them for a referral. You can also put a post up on an expatriate forum such as Expat Focus. Once you find a professional, honest doctor then they can become an excellent resource for referrals to specialists in other fields.

If you don’t like the first doctor you find, try another. I’ve gone to some doctors based on referrals and felt like they were just stringing me along to get me to come back and pay them more money. I’ve also found a couple of doctors who are professional, helpful, and give help over the phone without charging.

I don’t think that it’s necessarily true that more expensive doctors are always better, but so far I’ve had better experiences with the doctors that charge more. One of my favorite doctors is also an expatriate from the United States (and she charges on the higher end of the scale).

The Cost of Private Doctors in Mexico

This section has been moved to the all new Second Edition of Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.
Note: There are also private hospitals in Mexico, which work differently than those in the U.S. and Canada.



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Safety — Services

Safety Services:
Forget 911

When you move to Mexico, look at the front of your (or someone else’s if you don’t have yours yet) phone book for emergency phone numbers and write them down in a place you can easily find them.

There are a lot of them: one or two for each safety service.

Back to safety through the people