Health Tips in Mexico



Mexico does not have any agreements with other countries and there is nothing such as “free treatment” available in the country. This is why private health insurance is a good investment for expatriates.


Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social or IMSS is the Mexican social security system. It covers basic health care and covers foreigners who have acquired full immigrant status. However, it is advisable that you purchase private health insurance in addition. Expensive and long term treatments are not covered by the IMSS.

Private health insurance is a booming sector in the country. If your company does not provide you with health insurance, you should buy it yourself. The range of plans and premiums is very wide and as the insured you will be spoilt for choice.


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There are a number of public and private hospitals in Mexico, the best ones being located in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara. However, public hospitals offer only very basic facilities and you will have to endure a long wait before you receive attention. Despite being manned by well trained medical staff, the resources and equipments are limited and these hospitals may not be your first choice, particularly if you are looking for specialized treatment. When visiting a public health facility you will need proof of social security.

Private hospitals in Mexico offer state of the art facilities, well trained and multi-lingual staff and specialized treatments. All this comes at a premium price which is much lower than what you would pay in the US or other Western countries. Proof of private health insurance or a credit card until your insurance coverage is verified will be necessary.

Your consulate or insurance company will provide you with a list of hospitals in Mexico. This should help you find a good medical facility.


There is a good network of pharmacies across the country, with at least one in every town and one round the clock pharmacy in most cities. Most medications in Mexico are dispensed against prescriptions. However, due to poor enforcement of regulations it is often possible to purchase medications like antibiotics and painkillers that classify as prescription drugs in other countries over the counter. Insurance companies only reimburse the cost of prescriptions drugs. Medicines in the country are a lot cheaper than in the US and other Western countries. More recently there are discount pharmacy chains (farmacias de ahoro) that offer low-cost, generic substitutes for brand medications.


Doctors and dentists in Mexico are well trained, offer excellent treatment and usually speak good English. Most independent doctors do not work through the country's social security system, in which case you will have to pay them privately and get your money reimbursed form your private insurer. Even the cost of private treatment is lower than that in the US and most Western countries. Many Americans travel to Mexico to seek dental treatment at a fraction of the cost that they would incur in the US. The best way to find a doctor is by seeking recommendations from friends and colleagues. You could approach your embassy for a list of English speaking doctors.

Most opticians in the country are franchise chains although you will also come across some independent opticians who are well-stocked with optical supplies.

Emergency Numbers

Police/Ambulance/Fire: 060

In Case Of An Emergency

Apart from the above mentioned national emergency numbers, Mexican cities and towns have local emergency numbers. Familiarizing yourself with them would be useful. Additionally, your insurance company may provide you with their own emergency numbers which will have English speaking operators to assist you.

If you are able to go by yourself, head to the emergency department of the nearest hospital. Don't forget to carry proof of your social security for public hospitals and private health insurance for private hospitals.

Health Risks

Mexican lifestyle and culture has lead to the incidence of certain health risks such as health problems due to increase in the use of pesticides. AIDS is another health concern and more recently the H1NI1 virus.