Healthcare in Mexico- 5 Things You Should Know

If you need healthcare in Mexico, it’s important to know what to expect. Because you never expect to have an accident or get ill.


Here are 5 important things you should know about medical care in Mexico.

1. Healthcare in Mexico Is Great. However…

Yes, we’ve all heard that healthcare in Mexico is fantastic, but it’s also important to note that not every city in Mexico has fully equipped hospitals. This is especially true of smaller cities across Mexico. Usually, the residents of cities that don’t have the best hospitals travel to major cities like Guadalajara, Mexico City, Merida, Queretaro, or Monterrey for major medical care.

My aunt and uncle were recently involved in a collision with a semi on the highway in Queretaro. My aunt was severely injured and helped to get to the nearest emergency room. Unfortunately for her, there were only two fully equipped hospitals in Queretaro, which was about 1.5 hours away from her accident.

She mentioned that it was a very uncomfortable and long ambulance ride.

Living in charming and small cities like Ajijic, Tulum, Progreso, Puerto Escondido, or 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.

Hospital del Pardo Rosarito
Hospital del Pardo in Rosarito

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.

INSABI Hospital

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 on your explanation of benefits.

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.

This is important because you probably want to know exactly what the hospital is charging you for.

Many hospitals have English-speaking staff and doctors. However, it is unusual for the hospital to fully translate your bill. If you need help from a reputable medical concierge to help you determine which hospital is right for you, make an appointment, translate medical records, and translate with a doctor, we have an excellent recommendation in our COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide.

4. Public Hospitals Have LONG Wait Times

The majority of Mexican citizens use public healthcare because the cost of private health insurance is beyond their means. If you have access to a public hospital, you can expect great medical care but very long wait times.

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.

So, depending on your situation and the waiting period for you to be seen at public hospitals, you might want to self-pay.

Additional reading: What Are Your Health Insurance Options in Mexico?

5. Your Foreign Medical Policy Might Not Cover You in Mexico

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 it’s smart to come prepared just in case. In most cases, your foreign insurance won’t cover you in Mexico.

However, there are numerous companies like Allianz, Seven Corners, and Axa that offer travel medical insurance for single or multi-trips. We recommend using platforms like Squaremouth to get multiple quotes from a single search.

Typical Hospital Room In A Mexican Hospital

But if you’re living in Mexico full time (longer than 6 months), we highly recommend buying, at the very least, a catastrophic plan—something to cover a major medical accident in case one happens. If you can’t afford one or you are not eligible to buy insurance, then you should set aside some money each month in case of emergencies.

I’ve seen too many people start GoFundMe campaigns trying to raise as much money as possible for their medical attention because they don’t have a dime saved. Sometimes, that may very well be the only option, but it’s something you need to keep in mind when making a monthly budget.

Another pro tip is that if you are from the U.S. and are eligible for Medicare, you can apply for a Medicare Advantage plan to cover you in Mexico in case of life-threatening emergencies, such as a heart attack, a serious car accident, a serious stomach bug, or other emergencies. The other side to that is that if you want, you can always travel back to the U.S. for outpatient procedures with your regular Medicare coverage.

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Reader Interactions


  1. HvM says

    …….very informative

    • Mariana Lange says

      Glad it was helpful!


    Mariana, how can I video visit with a doctor to discuss my specific health issues? You mentioned a medical related link in your presentation. Can you please forward that to me.

    Thank you and you gave the best, most complete coverage of the major considerations that I’ve heard. Kudos to you.

    • Mariana Lange says

      You can try to find a tele doctor on

      • Manny Palazzo says

        Thank you.


    Mariana, another very informative article. I have a couple questions. I hear that old people (I’m 77) can’t get on Mexican private insurance programs. Also, I am retired military & have Tricare for Life & also have VA coverage & know that they will pay for medical stuff in other countries, but, will Mexican hospitals & doctors accept it? Thank you. Tom

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