Rising healthcare costs and high costs of living are pushing America’s baby boom generation to consider relocating abroad for retirement. Close proximity to the US and affordability of living make Mexico one of the top destinations for US retirees.
So, what healthcare choices do you have if you plan to move to Mexico in retirement?
Healthcare options for expats in Mexico
Mexico is also a well-established medical tourism destination for Americans, and as such, has highly-rated private healthcare facilities.
People of retirement age have specific medical needs, usually requiring regular medical check-ups, more medicines and follow up visits to manage all the health conditions they acquired during their lifetime.
Moreover, the risk of falling can pose the threat of urgent surgery. Because of this, sometimes retirees choose to receive long-term home care in Mexico, too.
1. Live in Mexico, receive healthcare in the US
Those retirees who live right across the border, such as in the Baja California area, often choose to enjoy the lower cost of living in Mexico while keeping their US health insurance and travelling to the US to receive their regular check-ups and scheduled surgeries.
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover American citizens abroad, and as such, you should not count on it to cover your medical costs while you enjoy your retirement in sunny Mexico.
With the price of visiting a general practitioner in Mexico at approximately $20 USD, and diagnostic tests costing about 30% less than in the US, many expat retirees choose to pay these expenses out of pocket.
However, costs can quickly add up for more complicated procedures, as certain healthcare facilities in areas with large international tourist or expat populations have been known to inflate medical charges.
2. Rely only on Mexican public healthcare
Mexico has a public and private healthcare system. As an expat retiree, you will be classed as a legal resident, so you can access public healthcare schemes (INSABI or IMSS).
INSABI – Instituto de Salud para el Bienestar
The INSABI program is available to citizens and legal residents and the program is said to offer medical treatment free of charge in public healthcare facilities in Mexico.
However, patients have reported being asked to pay the fees despite being part of the program.
Therefore, it is not advisable for US retirees to rely on this program as it’s poorly structured and does not offer the comprehensive long-term medical benefits retirees need.
Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS)
IMSS is a health insurance program for citizens or residents who are formally employed in Mexico.
Expat retirees often don’t fall under this category; however, they can sign up for around 200 – 400 USD per year.
Under the service, patients will get extensive healthcare in the public system. It is worth noting that the level of care will largely depend on the hospital and even the doctor you see, and the wait times are generally long.
As a general rule, healthcare in Mexican public facilities can rarely be accessed in English.
If you don’t speak Spanish, you may consider getting private coverage to supplement the local Mexican healthcare you are entitled to.
Public healthcare in Mexico does have a decent reputation in terms of actual medical care, but be aware that some hospitals charge in advance of treatment.
Expat retirees should plan ahead for emergency medical costs, even if they are significantly lower than in the US. While a local insurance program can cover immediate care, a global health insurance plan can offer more robust care, which, as a retiree, you need.
3. Private healthcare insurance in Mexico
Many private healthcare facilities in Mexico have a reputation for excellent standards.
In fact, American patients often schedule surgeries or dental procedures at the top Mexican hospitals as the cost for healthcare tends to be lower than in the US.
As a general rule, you can expect your medical bill for private healthcare to be approximately 50% lower than in the US.
If you would rather not shoulder the high costs out of pocket, you should look into private health insurance for retirees.
The cost of private health insurance in Mexico will not only depend on whether the plan is local or international but also on factors such as coverage limits, age, and any pre-existing conditions you might have at the time of application.
4. International health insurance: coverage in Mexico, the US, and anywhere else in the world
A high-quality international health insurance plan will cover you should you need medical treatment anywhere in the world – whether in Mexico, back in the US or on a trip to Europe!
This option gives you peace of mind and comprehensive medical coverage.
International health insurance offer bespoke coverage solutions, but they all have in common the following features:
- Access to private healthcare facilities worldwide (you can include the US)
- The ability to seek medical treatment from a hospital or doctor of your choice
- Routine doctor’s visits and testing
- Prescription benefits
- High coverage limits24/7 access to emergency assistance medical hotlines with medical experts
- Deductible options
- Emergency medical evacuation
Emergency medical evacuation
Emergency medical evacuation covers transportation costs to the nearest facility of excellence that can best treat your condition – whether it is a rare disease, a sudden heart issue or emergency evacuation.
Sometimes, this nearest facility may be in the US or a larger Mexican city.
This element also covers the transportation of mortal remains.
Pre-existing conditions and retiree health insurance plans
These days, some common conditions might be included in your policy since more and more conditions are considered ‘manageable’ and therefore pose a lower risk to the insurance companies.
Be mindful that these conditions vary from insurer to insurer, and each new health insurance plan will be granted only after general underwriting and a medical check-up.
Age and retiree health insurance
Unfortunately, the older you are, the higher your premiums will be.
The moment you reach sixty years old, you will see a significant increase in premiums. Moreover, not every medical plan will accept seniors.
However, those insurers who will accept you may impose stricter pre-existing conditions exclusions limiting your coverage.
Make sure to consider relocation to Mexico early in your retirement planning. If you choose to move, then ensure adequate health insurance coverage abroad – buy it early when you are younger and healthier.
To compare the leading international health insurance plans, request a free quote from our partner, International Citizens Insurance.