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    IMSS Healthcare Insurance for Expats

    For many expatriates moving to Merida, the issue of healthcare and health insurance is an important one. While the availability of inexpensive healthcare is not the only reason for moving to the Yucatan, it is a pleasant benefit for many.IMSS-Logo

    The cost of private healthcare insurance is much more reasonable here than in the United States. Most expatriate health insurance policies are portable and will cover your expenses in any country. For those on a budget, Mexico’s public healthcare system is of special interest. While many Mexicans berate the system for its bureaucracy and less-than-the-best facilities, many Americans applaud the relatively low-cost access to routine care and medicine.

    IMSS (pronounced “eems”) stands for Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (Mexican Institute of Social Security).  It is the largest social security system in Latin America. As stated on its website, its mission is to promote “the health of the ensured working population and their families… through the rendering of medical preventive and healing services, of daycare centers, and economic and social services… “  IMSS provides hospitals, clinics, daycare centers,  and even four IMSS-operated hotels that offer reduced rates to Mexican families for restful vacations.

    Most Mexicans belong to IMSS by being employed. Employers must register all employees with IMSS and deduct a small monthly fee from their pay. IMSS coverage is also available to any resident of Mexico who is willing to pay on a yearly basis. The fee ranges from just over $1,000 pesos to just over $3,000 pesos. Expatriates who have FM2 or FM3 visas are welcome to join this program…  and many have!

    There are two places in Merida that serve as intake clinics for the IMSS system. As an expat with an FM2 or FM3 visa, you must go to one of these two places to sign up:

    Pensiones (if you live north of Calle 59)
    Calle 7 No. 432 X 32 y 34
    Col. Residencial Pensiones C.P. 97217

    Serapio Rendón (if you live south of Calle 61)
    Calle 42 Sur No. 999 x 127 A y 131
    Col. Serapio Rendón C.P. 97285

    Once your documents have been submitted and approved, you will be assigned to one of the 10 IMSS clinics in Merida or the one clinic in Progreso. Upon arrival at the clinic, you will be given a personalized booklet, called a carnet, and assigned to a general practitioner at that clinic. This doctor will be your assigned physician for any medical needs you may have. You will schedule an initial meeting with him or her in order to get a checkup and assessment of your health.

    If any further treatment is needed, your assigned physician will refer you to a specialist within the IMSS system. Most of the specialists have offices in one of the two IMSS hospitals in Merida. There are also IMSS hospitals in Uman, Motul and Tizimin.

    IMSSAny treatment that you receive at the clinics or the hospitals, from general practitioners or specialists, will be covered completely by your IMSS insurance. If medication is prescribed, that medication will be free from the IMSS pharmacy within the hospital or clinic. If the medication is not available from IMSS, you may have to buy it yourself at a privately-owned farmacia (pharmacy). The cost of medicine at these pharmacies is relatively low.

    The downside of depending on IMSS for all your healthcare is that you have no control over the doctors or specialists that you see for your problems. Sometimes the wait to see a doctor or to receive medication can be uncomfortably long. Certain things, such as eyeglasses and hearing aids, are not covered under the IMSS plan.

    But with IMSS, you pay a relatively small fee once a year to cover most of the incidental medical costs that can add up over time. This includes preventative checkups and tests like mammograms, routine treatment for chronic conditions like asthma, and education about health issues such as diabetes or obesity. Expatriates we know who have signed up for IMSS have been pleased with the quality, experience and professionalism of the doctors and nurses attending them, most of whom also practice in private hospitals. A strategy some expatriates recommend is to purchase private health insurance with a high deductable for catastrophic coverage and let IMSS take care of the rest.

    For more information, visit the IMSS website here:  http://www.imss.gob.mx/ or call YES (Yucatan Expatriate Services) for assistance.

    For complete instructions on signing up for IMSS, addresses and phone numbers of clinics and hospitals, and the other types of healthcare available in the Yucatan, go to the Knowledge Store and download the YES Personal Insurance Guide.

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    12 Comments

    1. Alan
      November 21, 2009

      “If the medication is not available” is really an understatement! And proprietary medicines (those not available generically from various pharmaceutical houses) can be as costly as in the U.S. or Canada, again, if available.

    2. Allen
      November 30, 2010

      I’ve been told that there is an age limit on expats as far as IMSS is concerned. Is that correct? I have done a search but cannot find any reference to an age limit anywhere.
      Thank you
      Allen

    3. December 3, 2010

      Allen, there is no age limit for IMSS; in fact, the annual fee IMSS charges is based on age ranges and the last range is “60 years old or more” and costs $3,325.7 pesos (price valid untily January 31st 2011).

    4. Maria
      February 28, 2011

      I am a US citizen and a mexican dual and my husband is us. we are moving to merida and need to know our best insurance option. We just want major medical. we can afford to do our own visits and meds and are not ever ill.. My husband is 55 and I am 59. Is there someone out there with a suggestion. We pay a fortune for insurance in US and have a 5000 dollar deductible. We want to give it up. Please help us with info. As a mexican citizen what would I do. I have never worked in mexico?? and what would my husband be as an american. ??

    5. Yucatan Expatriate Services
      March 1, 2011

      Maria, you can contact our affiliate company, CARSA, to talk about medical insurance for yourself and your husband. You can find his information here: http://www.yucatanexpatriateservices.com/affiliates

    6. Dorothy
      June 24, 2011

      I am wondering about pre-existing conditions for the IMSS coverage.. My husband has been cancer free for 4 years and we are considering moving from Canada to the Yucatan.

    7. June 28, 2011

      Dorothy, when you apply for IMSS there is a form that you have to fill; this form has one section where they question you about your history of illnesses; they name them and you should mark if you have or have had any of them. Cancer is in that list, so he won´t be elegible for IMSS.

    8. Gabi
      July 13, 2011

      Dorothy,

      My husband is in a similar situation. If your husband is employed in Mexico then he does get coverage by IMSS through his employer even for preexisting conditions as far as I am concerned. Good luck!!

    9. John C.
      March 30, 2012

      I am a US citzen moving to Mexico. Can someone tell me if my marriage to a Mexican national woman qualifies me for IMSS Insurance even though I have a pre-existing cancer condition. I already have had surgery in the US and have been assigned the highest level of cure. Thanks, John C.

    10. April 2, 2012

      John, in order to registry before IMSS, you will need to get an FM3 or FM2 visa. About the pre-existing condition, it´ll be hard for you to get the insurance, because IMSS won´t accept it, unless you can prove you are cured. This is something that will be under their criteria.

    11. Suzanne
      March 14, 2013

      Is diabetes on the exclusion list for IMSS?

    12. March 27, 2013

      Suzanne, yes, it is stated like this in the IMSS form:
      Diabetes mellitus with:
      Renal failure
      Retinophaty
      Neuropathy
      Peripheral circulatory failure

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