A trip to a Mexican hospital is a very different experience than in the United States or Canada.
Knowing what to expect, and some planning ahead of time, will save time and stress. I recently saw a study that stated that 1 in 13 individuals over 50 years old will visit a hospital at least one time annually.
First and foremost, a private Mexican hospital is not legally required to treat you. They are not charities, they do not need to provide you with emergency care. The good news is that the private hospitals have state of the art care, as well as access to great doctors and specialists. If you arrive at a hospital, they will stabilize your condition and provide emergency care if you are an American or Canadian.
Once you are stable and diagnosed with what is wrong, you will have a visit from the Mexican hospital administration staff. They will take down information, ask if you have insurance and provide you with an estimate of what your care will cost. At this point they will request a deposit. If it is something simple, a broken leg, stitches. . .etc. They might take a $500 USD deposit. Something more serious several thousands and even request a second credit card as collateral. If you have international health insurance, tell them to contact the company to notify them that you have been admitted.
Many international health insurance plans have direct pay agreements with hospitals. In these situations, the Mexican hospital staff will verify that you have coverage and usually request that you provide them with your deductible amount as a deposit.
What happens if you cannot pay your bill? This is where it can get ugly very fast. They will ask you to contact family or friends to find someone that will guarantee payment. Can’t find someone, you will be discharged or transferred to the general hospital. They are not legally required to treat you. Some expats have been kept in the Mexican hospital until someone agreed to pay the bill. As I understand, this is now illegal.
Several years ago, an expat teenager in San Miguel de Allende was hit by a train, the bills for the care started to approach almost $100,000 USD. The family was required to put up the title of their home to continue treatment—an unfortunate situation.
We are often asked if the healthcare in Mexico is sub-par to the quality they would receive elsewhere. We often reply that it can be better if you go to a private hospital and the doctors know you can afford the care. The doctors down here have state of the art equipment and practices, and in my opinion they care more. They will do what it takes to solve your problem, not just alleviate your symptoms
Protect yourself and be ready, have insurance, or a medical evacuation membership plan. Have a credit card with at least $3,000 USD available to provide as a deposit. See my other post “911 Emergency Mexico and San Miguel de Allende” to prepare for an ambulance ride if needed. Quality international health insurance can be purchased for most at about $100 – $200 USD a month. Be ready.
What options are available for being a foreigner while traveling or living in Mexico?
Traveling for only a few months?
Consider a short term travel policy.
Traveling for more then 6 months or permanently?
International Health Insurance Policies are available to be issued to age 74.
For those who might not qualify for Insurance due to health conditions.
Consider a Medical Evacuation Policy that would return you to the United States in the event of a serious injury or accident.
Interested in getting health insurance while living abroad? Get a free quote today by clicking below.