AMLO Announces Integrated Healthcare in Mexico

Mexican President, López Obrador—often referred to by the acronym of his initials AMLO—has begun the first steps in fulfilling his campaign promise to change the current Mexican healthcare system. In its place, AMLO has envisioned a bold approach to healthcare in Mexico—one that he claims is modeled after the universal healthcare systems in Europe.

 

WHY THIS ISSUE IS IMPORTANT TO AMLO:

It is no surprise that this is such an important issue for President López Obrador. For the first time in Mexican history, reforming the Mexican healthcare system polled (and earned him the most votes) as the number one public program Mexicans wanted reformed. Previously, the top program that Mexicans had wished to reform was the pension for the elderly, however this pension program is currently evaluated as one of the best programs in Mexico, leaving the spot of number one concern to be the Mexican healthcare system.

 

THE SYSTEM AS IT STANDS NOW:

As it stands now, there are three major healthcare systems in Mexico: ISSSTE, Seguro Popular, and IMSS. Seguro Popular is state-run healthcare, while the IMSS (or Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social) is run by the federal government. Currently, the government allocates funds to the Seguro Popular, which then decides how to spend their funds on their own state-run system.

*ISSSTE is largely for federal employees such as police and firefighters, and is not relevant to this article, it will however be merged with the other healthcare plans.

– Seguro Popular –

With roughly 60 million members providing services at hundreds of hospitals and clinics throughout Mexico, it is recognized as the most comprehensive and highest-quality public healthcare in Mexico. To beat it, you have to have private health insurance. Medicines are administered by the clinic or hospital, and if your insurance does not cover the cost of those medications, then they are sold to you at a very reasonable price.

Seguro Popular has no preexisting conditions and no age limit. This comprehensive coverage includes 90% of all medical issues, including but not limited to:

  • Heart Disease
  • Electro-cardiograms
  • Appendicitis
  • Cancer of the liver, esophagus, ovaries
  • X-rays
  • Bone fractures
  • Vasectomy
  • Transplants of the heart and lungs
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Malaria
  • Hernias
  • Hemophelia

 

– IMSS –

The IMSS is a federally run healthcare program, whose clients are often government employees themselves. There is an annual fee based on your age, which ranges from $6,000 MXN – $9,000 MXN. If you have preexisting conditions, you are often declined. Your coverage gets better and better with each passing year.

 

THE PROBLEMS WITH SEGURO POPULAR:

AMLO’s vision for healthcare reform in Mexico is a centralized healthcare system run at the federal level. He feels that this state-run array of cobbled-together healthcare institutions, with a fragmented approach to healthcare in Mexico, has created a bureaucratic nightmare for Mexicans who need to seek treatment out of state. Furthermore, President López Obrador feels that millions of Mexicans are neglected by the Seguro Popular system.

As President López Obrador stated, “It’s obvious that it hasn’t worked. It’s not insurance and it’s not popular,” playing on the name Seguro Popular. He continues, “It’s going to be replaced by a public healthcare system that guarantees quality medical care and free medication.”

 

AMLO’S PLAN FOR HEALTHCARE IN MEXICO:

AMLO’s healthcare reform aims to centralize all institutions under the federal government. In effect, he wants to merge the Seguro Popular with the IMSS. As President López Obrador stated earlier this week, “Now what we want is to integrate healthcare systems, and to start giving special attention to the population that does not have social security, and to those who are not entitled as rightful claimants.” AMLO went on to explain that almost half the population (who are the poorest individuals in Mexico) fall into this category, for they do not have social security and thus are often overlooked by the current Seguro Popular system.

His goal for healthcare in Mexico is to guarantee—for the lowest strata of Mexican socioeconomic levels—first level care in medical centers and Social Security locations. He also wants hospitals and clinics of the clinics of the Secretary of Health of all the various Mexican states to pay attention and offer medical care to these disenfranchised classes of the Mexican population. Lastly, he wants ISSTE and IMSS clinics to tend to emergencies to the poorest of the Mexican population whether or not they are entitled as rightful claimants.

 

IMPLEMENTATION OF AMLO’S NEW PLAN:

AMLO has set aside $90 billion MXN—roughly $4.5 billion USD—to better the Mexican healthcare system; as well as an additional $25 billion MXN for the initial stages of implementing this plan. His plan is to begin integrating 8 states to his new federal healthcare vision. These states will be: Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, Tabasco, Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo. Every six months, another 8 states will be added to the expanding federal healthcare system until they are all integrated in two years. In order to accomplish this, he will have to reform Article 4 of the Constitution. In his own words, he does not want any legal precedent impeding upon his plan for healthcare in Mexico.

He then aims to set aside sufficient funds to ensure that this new integrated healthcare system can purchase medications. He has laid out his commitment to removing the current basic table system, in favor of a system where any medication can be provided to anyone based upon their personal need. He stressed this is something that the current Seguro Popular has not been able to do.

 

AMLO’S GOAL OF A NEW HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IN MEXICO:

It does seem likely that this integration of the IMSS and the Seguro Popular could be the first step in his ultimate goal of creating a universal healthcare system like that found in Europe or Canada. AMLO has said on multiple occasions that he longs to fully replace Seguro Popular—and some are hailing this as the first step in that change.

 

WILL THE NEW HEALTHCARE IN MEXICO AFFECT EXPATS?

For the time being, there are no major changes for the expat community when it comes to seeking healthcare in Mexico.

AMLO has been typically described as a left-wing populist. His goal with this new healthcare in Mexico is to care for the Mexican people and speculation for any restrictions that could be placed in the coming months on the immigrant and tourist communities in Mexico are unfounded. Currently, the government’s main focus is for Mexican citizens as of now, and other residents will be dealt with after the major changes.

The only two pieces of information that we have come across, which could indicate as to how the new healthcare system may pan out are:

  • The Yucatan region has been testing new rules for foreigners applying for Seguro Popular, making the rules slightly more strict for temporary residents (Residentes Temporal).
  • The Mexican constitution states that healthcare is a basic necessity for their residents. If you are a permanent resident (Residente Permanente), then this would most likely apply to you, and it is our best guess that you will continue to be covered.

However for now, it looks like there will be no major changes to the way immigrants get their healthcare. The roll out is expected to take a few years while this merger of IMSS and Seguro Popular take place. It is our recommendation to apply for Seguro Popular, if you do plan on using it as your main healthcare plan—in case they do exclude your demographic and let current applicants stay.

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Comments (10)

  • patricia conner

    segure popular was not available for all expats but only for temporary residents ( now just 3 months in some areas) and for permanent residents. i believe he will grandfather permanent but he might not make it free over 60 yrs for foreigners. i am french and have seen it in france. it took us 23 years to get fully working. we had to have the hospitals merged and the doctors education paid. This has been achieve in mexico already so i believe we are going to see the second stage of merging the 3 different systems together into a national system. but you article made it sound as if segure popular was a failure and threfore just go away. amlo is not going to throw out the whole system. it needs updating but amlo has good advisors from europe who currently are working on this problem for over 3 years (aug 2015). i am hoping that it works as it will be good for mexico and i hope i still can use it. i bought a medivac package for mexico to usa and mexico france as a back up as i have insurance there. it was only $750 for two per year. i recomend people to see about a back up until we know more. if you medicare, buy a medivac for usa and pay locally for the small stuff.

    Reply
    • Raf Bracho

      Great advice Patricia! Thank you so much for your input. 🙂

      Reply
    • Robert Boyeson

      To confirm. MediVac is only $750 for 2 people per year? And they will take you to, or nearest to the hospital of your choice?

      Reply
  • Mary Kimbal Saunders

    Mexico has been a source of medical innovation for over 40 years, with people from around the world coming to Mexico for treatments they could not get in home countries. This includes Dr. Mark Hyman, from the Cleveland Clinic, who came for some treatments for chronic issues that he could not get in the U.S. Dr. Hyman heard about these treatments from his patients in the U.S., who had great relief of pain and other issues. Attempts to legalize what people want in the U.S., under ACA, failed. There was a clause about it, but the people paid to explain in public talks did not know about it. Codes were not allowed for the existing system to allow Maya medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine, as examples of what U.S. people pay for out of pocket and what they travel out of the U.S. to get. I would have the same questions for the Mexican system as I did for the alleged changes in the U.S. system. Will time-tested, ancient forms of medicine be covered, and will less harmful and interventionist treatments be used with respect? The use of traditional cleansing ceremony in the inauguration leads me to hope that ancient science and medicine will be respected. Nonetheless, I feel it important to ask and to emphasize in my asking that many people will take huge steps for their own health along with using and supporting tried and true medicines of ancient peoples.

    Reply
    • Raf Bracho

      That is a great point Mary! Thanks so much for your thoughts.

      Reply
  • Jenipher younghall

    Thanks for the information

    Reply
  • M. Ratcliffe

    Our caretaker in Yucatan needed urgent surgery for possible ovarian cancer. Cost us 35 000 pesos plus 5 000 for incidental costs. Let’s hope AMLOs plan works. Relief= no cancer

    Reply
    • Raf Bracho

      Thank you for sharing. We hope she has a full recovery!

      Reply

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