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health insurance in mexico for us citizens

Health Insurance In Mexico For US Citizens: How To Get Coverage

avatar - Lee Doran

Lee Doran

Underwriting Manager

Mexico has become a popular expat destination with many US citizens thanks to its lower cost of living and the potential for a better lifestyle. If you’re planning a move to Mexico, then you’ll want to know everything about Mexico’s healthcare and if you should include a private plan before you go. 

As international insurance specialists, William Russell can provide health insurance in Mexico for US citizens or international expats. With over 30 years of experience, we can ensure top-quality care in Mexico, Latin America and across the globe. We can also help you choose the right policy and give you a few tips on staying safe in Mexico.

Health insurance in Mexico for US citizens: Here’s how to get it

Mexico has a plan called IMSS (Mexican Social Security Institute) which provides healthcare for most of Mexico’s residents. There are two forms of enrollment in health insurance in Mexico for US citizens:

  1. Compulsory: If you’re an employee in the private sector, your employer will enroll you in the IMSS—you can’t opt out, and you must enroll by law. 
  2. Voluntary: If you’re self-employed, retired, or are unemployed, you can enroll in the IMSS voluntarily. 

Mexico’s public healthcare is overall good quality and cheaper than the US system. Nonetheless, you risk incurring high costs if you have a serious health issue or medical emergency. For that, it’s best to have private healthcare.

To get private health insurance as a US citizen in Mexico, you have two options: 

  • Use an insurance broker: A broker will try to find you a deal by comparing different providers.  
  • Ask for a quote: You can go directly to an insurance provider, like William Russell.
Want more information on life in Mexico?
Check out our guide to moving to Mexico as an expat

Will public healthcare in Mexico cover me when I travel to the US?

If you opt for IMSS, you’ll have no coverage in the United States (US) and will have to arrange that separately. If you plan to travel frequently between Mexico and the US, there are a few insurance options open to you.

As a US citizen, you may want to take out travel insurance. However, finding travel insurance as a US expatriate visiting the US is difficult. You can get short-term medical coverage with North American domestic insurance companies—although you often have to wait 3-6 months after you’ve not resided in the US.

There are two more options: 

  • A private health insurance plan with limited coverage in the US. Many insurance providers will offer you some medical coverage in the US (as well as Mexico). For instance, we offer full cover in Mexico, Central America and Canada, but limited coverage in the US (for temporary trips up to 45 days and accident and emergency treatment only). This may suit you if you travel back to the US once or twice a year as it provides cover for up to US$50,000 (ideal for accidents and emergencies). 
  • A worldwide private health insurance plan with full coverage in the US. Some providers offer a worldwide plan, including full coverage in the US. This can be useful if you split your time 50/50 between Mexico and the US. The downside is that your insurance premium will be more expensive.

How to have medical insurance as a US citizen in Mexico with William Russell 

As a private international insurance provider with over 30 years of experience, we specialize in providing quality expat health insurance to US citizens (and their family members) living abroad. 

Whether you’re looking for a basic package or a premium plan with extensive benefits, we’ve got you covered. Our range of coverage of health insurance in Mexico for US citizens includes four levels: Bronze, SilverLite, Silver, and Gold. 

Every health insurance policy will cover:

  • Your hospital treatment 
  • A local ambulance (and air ambulance, if needed)
  • Advanced diagnostic tests
  • Cancer treatment
  • Emergency medical evacuation 
  • A 24hr emergency helpline
  • Transplants

Features found only in our more premium plans include:

  • Doctor visits and other out-patient care (SilverLite, Silver & Gold)
  • Dental care (different options on SilverLite, Silver & Gold)
  • Pregnancy & maternity care (Gold plan only)

Travel vs Long stay

If you are only planning on traveling to Mexico, you probably don’t need international health insurance. However, if you plan on living there for over a year, you can take out international private health insurance.

Want to know more about the difference between local and international travel insurance?

Read our full guide

Where can William Russell provide coverage to US citizens in Mexico? 

As a US citizen living in Mexico, you have the choice of two areas of coverage, which we refer to as “zones”:

  • Zone 1 provides worldwide cover and limited coverage in the US
  • Zone 2 provides coverage in many countries (including Mexico) limited coverage in countries where private medical care is expensive, and no coverage in the US
Want to know the cost of a plan with William Russell?
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How to get coverage in Mexico with William Russell

To begin the process, all you need to do is:

  1. Request a quote by filling in some details about yourself and your desired coverage area. You can do this here.
  2. You’ll receive an overview of our available plans – Bronze, SilverLite, Silver, and Gold – along with an estimated price range.
  3. A dedicated team member will be your point of contact throughout the process.
  4. Our team member will work closely with you to ensure your policy matches your specific requirements. They’ll explain everything that’s covered (and what’s not).
  5. Once you’re happy with your policy, we’ll send it off for review and approval. All our policies are insured by the Allianz Group, one of the world’s largest insurance providers.
  6. Once we approve your policy receive your payment, congratulations! Your policy is now in effect.

Why pick William Russell as your health insurance provider in Mexico?

With every William Russell plan, you’ll enjoy a range of features and benefits, including:

Personal care with a dedicated claims manager

As a family-run insurance provider, we place a high importance on providing excellent service for all our members. That’s why we forgo the use of call centers. Instead, we provide you with a dedicated claims manager. This means you’ll have the advantage of speaking with the same familiar team members whenever you need them, instead of interacting with a different person each time.

Expertise in international health insurance

At William Russell, we specialize in international health insurance for expats, which sets us apart from other insurance providers mainly focusing on local insurance. For us, international coverage is our primary business, area of expertise, and top priority.

We have been successfully providing international health insurance to thousands of satisfied US citizens for over 30 years. Our commitment to exceptional customer service has earned us a 4.5/5 rating on Feefo for customer experience. We’re proud to have long-standing relationships with many clients who have been with us for decades.

At William Russell we let our members do the talking
Find out what they’re saying about us

Insurance that covers you in multiple locations 

Rather than purchasing multiple insurance policies for different countries or a generic international plan that includes coverage you may not need, we offer a better solution. Our insurance coverage is available in 6 different zones, so you can select the one that best fits your needs.

For instance, if you’re located in Mexico but frequently travel around of South America, you can choose Zone 2, which provides comprehensive coverage throughout the continent. Or, if you want limited coverage back home in the US (for 45 day trips and accident and emergency cover only – up to US$50,000), opt for Zone 1. 

Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5 Zone 7*
Worldwide cover, with restricted cover in the USA Full cover in most countries, with restricted cover where private healthcare is expensive but no cover in the USA Special area of cover for residents in Indonesia, with restricted cover where private healthcare is expensive but no cover in the USA Full cover in Africa & Indian Subcontinent, with restricted cover elsewhere but no cover in the USA Full cover in Africa (except South Africa) & Indian Subcontinent, with restricted cover elsewhere but no cover in the USA Full cover in Southeast Asia only

*Wondering if there is a Zone 6? There is, but we use it on our international life insurance plans only.

Get claim outcomes within 10 days 

We try to assess all claims for reimbursement within 10 days. 

For in-patient claims, you need to contact us in advance of your planned treatment. This way we can pre-authorise and approve the payment directly with the hospital or clinic before your treatment.

Like all other insurance providers, we simply can’t guarantee immediate decisions for your claim. But we can guarantee your dedicated claims manager, whom you’d have already spoken with, will work tirelessly to complete your claim. They’ll keep you informed throughout the entire claims process. 

Receive healthcare in top hospitals 

With over 30 years of experience as an insurance provider, we have established strong partnerships with top medical centers in Latin America.

If you require hospitalization or private clinic services, we can suggest a hospital in our network that meets our high standards of care. Within your coverage area, you can also choose the hospital you prefer. We’ll make sure you have all the necessary information to make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

An emergency medical helpline (24 hours a day) 

Medical emergencies don’t always occur during business hours. As a member of William Russell, you’ll have access to our emergency helpline 24/7, so you can get the medical care you need whenever you need it. If necessary, we’ll even arrange for your evacuation to ensure your safety.

All plans include medical evacuation

If there’s an emergency life-threatening or limb-threatening condition that requires in-patient treatment that cannot be provided locally, we’ll evacuate you to the best nearby medical center for your needs. Making sure you’re covered in an emergency is so important to us: that’s why we include medical evacuation in all of our plans. 

Access to medical experts for complex claims 

We run all emergency, maternity, and cancer claims by our team of specialists. They will provide support when you claim, and can suggest getting a second opinion if there’s any doubt about the findings from your doctors in Mexico.

The confidence of being a part of the Allianz Group

An insurer in the Allianz group insures all our plans. This means you’ll receive our international expertise and personal customer service, as well as the confidence that a big name insures your plan. 

How claims work with William Russell 

Most claims will generally fall into one of the below segments:

1/ Being admitted to the hospital

If you’re planning a hospital stay, contact us first to make sure your plan covers it. We’ll pay the hospital directly, but you may need to pay your deductible to the hospital (depending on your policy). If it’s an emergency, tell us within 24 hours so we can authorize your claim. Examples of medical providers include clinics, hospitals, doctors, surgeons, and anesthesiologists.

2/ Getting medical care outside the hospital

If you see a doctor or receive medical care outside the hospital, you’ll need to pay the bill yourself and then ask us for reimbursement. If the bill is over US$500, your doctor needs to fill out part of the claim form. Examples of out-patient care include seeing a doctor, getting a prescription, having tests or scans, undergoing physical therapy, and going to the dentist.

3/ Being evacuated for medical care

If you need urgent life or limb-saving care that’s not available where you are, we’ll help move you to the nearest hospital with the medical services you need. We’ll decide the best way to move you, which could be by air ambulance or commercial flight with a medical escort. We’ll consider your medical needs, visa rules, and your ability to travel. We can’t move you to, from, or within the USA.

For more information on our claims procedure
Check out our full guide here

What our medical evacuation process looks like in Mexico

In rural areas of Mexico, the local medical care may not be of a high standard. However, all plans at William Russell include medical evacuations to the best medical center for your needs, should you require life or limb-saving treatment. 

The process works like so:

  1. Contact our 24/7 emergency helpline to report a medical emergency.
  2. Our medical team will assess your condition.
  3. We will arrange your evacuation destination and transportation.
  4. We’ll pick you up via ground or air ambulance if necessary.

Who is William Russell best for?

Our policies are perfect for:

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Healthcare in Mexico: All you need to know

Whether you’re planning to live, work or retire in Mexico, you’ll probably want to know more about how the Mexican healthcare system works. Here’s an overview of the Mexican healthcare system.

What is Mexico’s healthcare system like? 

Mexico offers public healthcare to all its residents under the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS). Employees in the private sector (and their families) are automatically enrolled in this by their employer. A slightly different healthcare program covers those in the public sector: the “Institute of Social Security and Services for State Workers” (ISSSTE).

Healthcare in Mexico has improved significantly in recent years, but there are still some major challenges. Mexico is huge (with a population of nearly 130,000,000), and many residents live in rural locations. As such, there can often be a shortage of doctors and nurses. Mexico’s high rate of obesity and chronic diseases (i.e., diabetes) puts a large strain on the public healthcare system.
As a US citizen living in Mexico, there are a few drawbacks to relying on public healthcare:

  1. Limited resources: The public healthcare system in Mexico is often underfunded, which can lead to a lack of resources, such as medications, equipment, and staff. This can mean long wait times for appointments, diagnostic tests, and treatment.
  2. Dated infrastructure: Many public hospitals and clinics in Mexico are outdated and in need of repair. This can impact the quality of care provided.
  3. Limited medical care in rural locations: Access to quality healthcare can vary widely depending on where you live in Mexico. Rural areas and poorer communities often have fewer healthcare resources and a lower quality of care than urban areas.
  4. Language barriers: For non-Spanish-speaking patients, communicating with healthcare providers in public medical facilities can be challenging. There may not always be translators available.

How much does private healthcare cost in Mexico? 

The private healthcare sector in Mexico is well developed. Private providers offer a higher level of care than public healthcare facilities, with shorter wait times, access to more advanced medical technologies and treatments, and personalized attention.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot more expensive, and treatment costs can add up quickly. For reference, here are a few ballpark figures for private healthcare costs in Mexico (on a pay-as-you-go basis):

  • GP consultation: Between 350 & 500MXN (US$18-25).
  • A dental consultation: Between 400 & 1000MXN (US$20-50). 
  • Having a crown fitted: Between 5,000 & 10,000MXN (US$252-504).
  • One night in a hospital (private room): 3000 to 5300MXN (US$151-267)
  • Private hospital deposit when entering as an emergency patient: 14,000 to 25,000 MXN (US$705-1,260).

Can I get coverage everywhere in Mexico? 

With William Russell, you’ll have health insurance coverage throughout Mexico. We accept members in any part of Mexico and can cover treatments in any part of Mexico, too. 

Mexico is one of the best countries for US citizens to move to
Discover why in this roundup of the 13 best countries for Americans to move to from USA

Our top tips for staying safe in Mexico 

1/ Know your emergency numbers

Conveniently, 911 is also the emergency number in Mexico! This is your go-to number to report any emergency situation: whether that’s an accident, crime, fire, or medical emergency.

You can also call 065 for the Red Cross (specifically for medical emergencies), and 066 for public safety emergencies (crimes, accidents, and fires).

2/ Follow travel recommendations

At the time of writing, six out of 32 states in Mexico have a ‘do not travel’ recommendation by the US state department due to high crime rates. These regions include Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas.

The state department advises the following:

  • Opt into STEP (the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). This means you’ll get emergency alerts on your phone and emergency help can find you in a crisis.
  • Use tolled highways and don’t travel or drive by yourself or after dark—police presence and emergency services may be extremely limited outside of state capitals or major cities, such as Mexico City.
  • Be on alert when indulging in nightlife activities, gambling, or using ATMs. Be careful of showing signs you have money, such as expensive jewelry.

Stay up-to-date on any Mexico travel advisories here.

3/ Learn a bit of Spanish 

Only around 10% of Mexicans speak English. As such, it’s important to know a few phrases in Spanish to help you in an emergency. Fortunately, private medical centers will feature English speakers. 

Worried about seeing a doctor abroad?
Our guide covers finding an English-speaking doctor abroad

FAQ on Mexican health insurance for US citizens

You may be eligible for Mexico’s public health insurance as a US citizen if you or a family member work in Mexico’s public or private sector businesses and have temporary or permanent residency there.

If you are not currently employed in Mexico, you may qualify for Mexico’s universal healthcare, known by its acronym INSABI. While everyone with residency in Mexico is eligible, INSABI guarantees cover for poor, low or no-income residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods. INSABI will also only guarantee cover for routine check-ups, doctor visits, and medicines. Serious medical conditions will come with a cost. 

Infographic on how Mexicans receive healthcare and how public health insurance in Mexico for US citizens could be possible
Source: The Wilson Center

US citizens living and working in Mexico may be eligible for healthcare in Mexico under the IMSS, which is the healthcare system provided under Mexico’s private employment sector. If you have legal residency and are self-employed there, you can opt-in to the system voluntarily. However, the IMSS will cover not cover all specialist healthcare services, such as dentistry and eye care. Pre-existing conditions may also not be covered.

While the overall healthcare system is good in Mexico, the quality of care may not be up to standard outside large urban areas, like Mexico City or Guadalajara. As a US expat, you may want to consider private insurance providers like William Russell who can cover you for health emergencies and medical care in private institutions, where you’ll find higher quality. 

The Mexican government started universal healthcare in 2008. Its current system is called Instituto de Salud para el Bienestar (INSABI). Only residents of Mexico’s low-income areas can receive free healthcare under INSABI, which is limited to levels one and two of Mexico’s healthcare system (general medicine and medication). More serious medical conditions are available at a cost. 

Health insurance in Mexico for US citizens: Try William Russell

An international insurance policy with William Russell enables you to live your life in Mexico with safety and security.

For over 30 years, we’ve been providing comprehensive health insurance coverage to thousands of US citizens and their families in Mexico and beyond. Get started with international health insurance in Mexico for US citizens with William Russell. 

Get health insurance in Mexico for US citizens with William Russell

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