The Mexican Heath Care Systems

The Mexican government has made great strides toward universal coverage. Taking a right’s based approach, the government supports public sector services and facilities through Seguro Popular and through the IMSS “Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social.”  Alongside the public sector there is a robust private sector often offering high quality care.   Resident expatriates can access the same services as Mexicans at the same price.

The Public Sector

IMSS  and Seguro Popular are available to residents who have Residencia Temporal and Residencia Permantente immigration status. Hospital General, through which Seguro Popular is serviced, is also open to those holding Tourist Visas and the costs are minimal compared to similar services at a private hospital.


Under IMSS you cannot choose a primary care doctor, but will be assigned a doctor to
manage care and assign services. In order to receive services you need to apply and pass a medical exam carried out by IMSS looking for preexistingconditions.    Each state interprets restrictions differently. If you are interested in signing up with the IMSS it is best to use a local broker or facilitator at the beginning of the process.

You will not be eligible for IMSS health insurance if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • Allergy or asthma
  • Chronic diseases of the blood
  • Cancer or tumors
  • Diabetes mellitus with: Renal failure, Retinopath and Neuropathy
  • Peripheral circulatory failure
  • Heart diseases
  • Liver diseases
  • Nervous disorders or chronic psychiatric issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Rheumatism or arthritis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Stomach ulcer
  • AIDS or HIV positive status
  • Congenital diseases (from birth)
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Vascular incidents or strokes
  • Deformation or movement limitations by accidents or diseases
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Toxic substance addiction

If approved, the coverage is quite broad and includes consultations,  tests, hospitalization, surgery and medicines. It also includes basic dental and optical; but only within the IMSS structure – their doctors, clinics and hospitals.

Those covered by IMSS must renew annually, and can be refused coverage at any time.

Seguro Popular and the Hospital General System

Hospital General is a recently built hospital with some of the latest high tech equipment, including digital mammography.  This is a Seguro Popular Facility and is open to the public.  It is considered to have good emergency care for most conditions. Any resident on a temporary or permanent visa can apply for coverage by Seguro Popular and the exclusions are not as many as those for IMSS.
Seguro Popular is health care program, the annual cost of which is based on a needs assessment.  Patients will be assigned a doctor appropriate to the condition.  Those covered by Seguro Popular must renew every 3 years. Coverage includes dental and optical.  Conditions that cannot be treated at Hospital General in San Miguel will be referred to other Hospital General facilities which provide those services.

The Private Sector

The private medical sector consists of hospitals, clinics and doctors who have their own practice.  Many of the hospitals and clinics are owned by a group of doctors who function as the primary caregivers in those facilities.  Others are owned and operated by large for-profit corporations; the doctors may be employed or contracted by the hospitals or corporation. In many areas there are extensive medical centers offering all the services that we have come to expect.  These extensive medical centers can be found in Queretaro, Celaya and Leon.  For an expert guide to private hospitals throughout Mexico refer to Mexico Health and Safety Travel Guide (, 2nd Edition). Compared to those in the U.S., costs for private medical services are modest, but as with medical costs worldwide, these are increasing.  Many nearby urban centers have given rise to some outstanding medical professionals and services. Many of the larger hospitals and hospital chains have received or are in the application process for International Joint Accreditation, by which the facility must meet a standard of criteria equal to accredited hospitals in the United States.
Updated 12-4-14