Does Mexico Have Universal Health Care?

Many Mexican doctors have completed some or all of their training in the United States or Europe, many speaking excellent English.

Mexicans employed in the private sector qualify for healthcare coverage through IMSS (Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social). Cost of this system is deducted directly from an employee’s salary.


Mexico generally offers medication at 30% to 60% lower costs than in the United States, and most drugs don’t require a physician’s prescription to obtain. There may be exceptions such as controlled substances which require professional guidance to obtain them.

Most Mexican cities and large towns feature at least one full-service hospital, with many smaller towns having at least one clinic as well. Hospitals generally remain open 24 hours per day with emergency rooms that offer 24/7 coverage as well as ambulance services to transport patients between hospitals.

Mexico continues to face serious obstacles in its journey to universal healthcare coverage despite recent improvements, with household financial protection falling far short of OECD averages and insurance penetration being well below this benchmark. While COVID-19 pandemic and transition from Insabi to IMSS-Bienestar may present opportunities for improvement, in order to make significant strides toward progress; changes alone won’t get them there.


Mexico faces a complex challenge when it comes to providing universal health care. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has prioritized this goal, yet many state leaders remain opposed to federalizing the system. Furthermore, Mexico needs to transition away from treating disease-specific needs towards creating an approach focused on prevention via health education and community participation.

Mexico’s public healthcare system is guided by the 1917 Social Security Law, which places state legal responsibility for collective wellbeing of its citizens. Most employees qualify for medical coverage through the Instituto Mexicano de Seguridad Social (IMSS); payments come directly out of their paychecks while workplace HR staff handle any paperwork necessary.

Individual Mexican states provide healthcare services independently from one another and military has its own private system, while IMSS and Seguro Popular programs can both be easily accessed by most of the population.


Even with the recent expansion of public health insurance coverage, quality healthcare remains hard to come by in rural Chiapas. Clinics may be located miles away and lack basic supplies; additionally, doctors and nurses require upfront payment since Mexican hospitals don’t participate in direct billing programs with international insurance providers.

Mexico’s 92 million public sector employees can gain access to healthcare via five separate channels. Government workers receive benefits through ISSSTE while state-owned companies like PEMEX and the military provide coverage through separate institutions.

Mexican healthcare remains superior to that provided in many OECD nations despite this fragmentation; however, moving away from response-based treatment towards preventive care could save billions and improve population health overall.


Mexico offers affordable medical office visits that cost a third less than in North America; however, medical bills can quickly rack up so it’s wise to protect yourself with comprehensive health insurance as some healthcare facilities may increase charges for visitors.

Mexican government subsidies health coverage through the Instituto Mexicano de Seguridad Social (IMSS). Unfortunately, this system has recently been plagued by underfunding and high rates of informal workers evading contributions; President Lopez Obrador has proposed turning IMSS into a single national healthcare system.

The Mexican healthcare system is currently being changed by its current administration in order to cut costs and expand coverage. They are consolidating three federal healthcare systems into one while also instituting reforms to decrease corruption; these changes should make Mexico’s healthcare system more effective while improving quality care while increasing access to cost-effective medications.

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