How the Medical system works in Mexico

The healthcare system in Mexico aims to provide social welfare services to the largest number of citizens. The Social Security (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS) ensures access to medical care (both preventive care and outpatient care) for all salaried workers (via a mandatory scheme) as well as for self-employed workers and civil servants (via a voluntary scheme) after a waiting period of one month.

Spouses and children under 25 are also covered under the Social Security system. The most deprived people (those who earn the minimum wage) are exempt from paying social contributions while the rest of the population pays a 10% contribution on their salary.

As the cost of medical expenses is high, particularly in private hospitals, most expatriates take out private healthcare insurance.


Visiting a doctor in Mexico

If you are registered with the public insurance system, your treating doctor will be automatically appointed by the IMSS and you will rarely be able to change doctors again. If you're not enrolled with the public system, you can choose your own treating doctor.

Search our provider directory for a recommended English-speaking doctor or ask your embassy to help you find a doctor who speaks your language if you're not fluent in Spanish.


Certain GPs provide medical care directly in pharmacies for a ridiculously low fee (around €2). However, we recommended you consult a private doctor, especially as most of them do not work with the IMSS.

Consultation fees will be higher (500 pesos i.e. around €30) but you will be reimbursed if you have private healthcare insurance.

Specialist Doctors

In the public sector, you need to see your treating doctor to get a referral to a specialist. This is not the case if you have private healthcare insurance. Like GPs, consultation fees for specialist doctors vary greatly depending on whether they work with the IMSS or are private.


Being admitted to hospital in Mexico

Public Hospitals

Public hospitals are more affordable than private facilities and the medical care is acceptable, but they lack staff and equipment.

Private Hospitals

The quality of medical care in private hospitals is similar - if not equal - to the USA. Some hospitals may ask you to show your private health insurance card or provide a document proving that you can pay for your medical expenses before admission.

In case of emergency: dial 911

Buying medication in Mexico

Most drugs in Mexico can be bought over-the-counter. Drugs are very affordable and much cheaper than those sold in the USA.

Source: MSH International