If you find yourself needing healthcare in Mexico, it will be important for you to know what to expect.
Because you never expect to have an accident or get ill. Right?
Here are 5 important things you should know when you go to a hospital in Mexico.
1. Healthcare in Mexico Is Amazing
Yes, we’ve all heard that healthcare in Mexico is fantastic, but it’s also important to note that not every major city in Mexico has fully equipped hospitals.
My aunt and uncle were recently involved in a collision with a semi on the highway in Queretaro. My aunt was severely injured and help to get to the nearest emergency room. Unfortunately for her, there are only two fully equipped hospitals in Queretaro, and they were both very far away. She mentioned that it was a very uncomfortable and long ambulance ride.
Now, for most of Mexico, the best hospitals are in the biggest cities. That means that depending on the type of care you need; you’ll most likely need to travel to Guadalajara, Monterrey, or Mexico City.
Living in charming and small towns like San Miguel de Allende can be very relaxing. But it’s important to note where the nearest big hospital is in case you ever need serious help.
2. You CAN Be Denied Medical Care
Public hospitals in Mexico are for people who have a membership with them or prove their legal residence in Mexico. If you show up to a government hospital without this type of proof, the hospital can deny you medical care.
In the case of private hospitals in Mexico, you can also be denied medical care if you don’t have a way to prove that you can pay upfront. And in most hospitals, credit cards are not a sufficient means of proving you have the money.
Expect to pay cash!
There have been cases where people have been unable to withdraw cash or have sufficient cash to pay their hospital bills. And then, these hospitals have taken their passport or resident card until they can pay off their bill.
It’s not always the case, but you must ask this beforehand if you can do so.
If you live in Mexico full time, you should plan on signing up for a comprehensive insurance plan. There are a wide variety of plans available with different coverage types. However, you need to know that Mexican healthcare insurance usually doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, and there is a wait-time for some medical conditions. So make sure you read the fine print.
3. Translating Your Medical Bill
One thing you probably won’t think about if you’re looking into medical care in Mexico is your hospital bill. Especially if you specifically chose a place because you found an English speaking doctor.
Expect the hospital to give you a bill in Spanish. And unless you understand medical terms in Spanish, you should probably prepare to have someone translate it for you.
And this is important because you probably want to know exactly what the hospital is charging you for.
A lot of hospitals have English speaking staff as well as English speaking doctors. However, it will be unusual to get your bill fully translated by the hospital.
4. Public Hospitals Have LONG Wait Times
The majority of Mexican citizens use public healthcare in Mexico because the cost of private health insurance is outside of their means. That means you can expect great medical care but very long wait times if you have access to a public hospital.
Some people have access to public and free healthcare, but their condition is so urgent that they forgo their free option and pay out of pocket.
Out of pocket medical care in Mexico is still very inexpensive compared to costs in the U.S. Depending on your situation and the waiting period for you to be seen at public hospitals, you might want to self pay.
5. Your U.S. Medical Policy Won’t Cover You
Many of us travel to other countries, assuming we won’t have an accident or get sick. And most of the time, that’s definitely the case.
But for that small percentage, we carry health insurance. Our credit cards have a form of health insurance policy for travel, and some airlines even offer a type of travel insurance that covers illness to a certain amount.
But I definitely wouldn’t count on these types of insurance policies to cover every single medical reason. In fact, Most U.S. health policies don’t cover international emergencies, and you’ll be expected to pay before getting medical attention in Mexico.
Some credit card companies and some airlines have much better coverage than others. Read the fine print, and make sure you ask if you find yourself needing help in Mexico.
If you have a health insurance policy and visit Mexico for a short period of time, you should call them first to find out if they offer a plan for your international travel.
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