When I moved to Mexico, I have a lot of preconceived notions about how things work. One of those things was health insurance in Mexico. I had heard over the years about how cheap healthcare is in Mexico. I knew about medical tourism in Mexico, which is when someone goes to Mexico for a medical procedure because it is cheaper in Mexico than in their home country. I had heard about how cheap everything was, so health care must be too.
When I got to Mexico, I had not made up my mind whether or not I was to get health insurance. I canceled my policy in the US and was going to hope that I didn’t get hurt and if I did that it would be a cheap fix. So at that time, I had no health insurance at all. If you are from the USA, you know that not having health insurance is a huge risk. After a few months and speaking with several locals, I decided it would be best for me to get health insurance in case of something catastrophic. Medicine was very cheap, doctor’s visits and tests were also cheap. I can handle if something minor happens, but not if it’s something major.
Research and Decision:
So, I started doing research and weighed my options on cost and coverage. My boss offered me the company health insurance through Cigna or I could choose to get my own health insurance in Mexico. I considered several factors including cost and coverage. Ultimately, I decided to go with the other company because it was cheaper. So once I made my decision, I contacted the insurance agent and told him which policy I wanted. While I was signing up for health insurance in Mexico, the agent asked me many questions about my husband and my health. He asked the usual questions: if we took any medications, had any recent procedures, and our family history. Everything was taken care of and no longer did I have to worry about a catastrophic expense: or so I thought.
That’s Not All…
My agent then sends me a rather long packet to have filled out by a physician. He told me that in Mexico, you can be denied or discriminated against for pre-existing conditions, which was outlawed in the united states in 2010 through the Affordable Care Act. For myself, the insurance company wanted doctor’s letters about why I was taking certain medications. This seemed like a fairly easy task, so I contacted my doctors in the USA and told them what I needed. Because of HIPPA it was actually pretty difficult for me to get my own records. I would recommend an electronic or paper copy of all your records to Mexico. One of my doctors never would call me back or return my emails. One of my doctors had to mail a letter to my American address to which I had my mother scan and text to me so I could forward it to my agent. But that’s not all. My husband had to do even more. His doctor in the US was never very responsive in the past, so I knew getting his records would be no easy task. After finally getting the doctor on the phone, we had to wait 3 weeks for them to process a Release of Information Form. On top of that, he had to get blood work, an EKG, and have a Mexican doctor fill out a health evaluation.
It took several months to gather this information. Our doctors were not very responsive and there were so many rules to follow because of HIPPA. Finally, after 4 months of waiting, we had all of our information in and we waited on approval from our insurance company. I was very nervous but my agent assured me we would get approved.
The day comes that we long awaited for, my agent calls and says we have been accepted for a policy. He said all the paperwork looked good and after he accepted payment, we would be covered. There’s one itty bitty catch, the insurance company wouldn’t cover my husband’s heart, because of preexisting conditions. His heart!! That thing is pretty important for all functions of the body. At this point, I was so exhausted from the back and forth and felt like I didn’t have many other options since we had gone so far the rabbit hole with the company, so I accepted.
Moral of the story: Take the American health insurance. You can get insured rapidly and they cannot discriminate against you for pre-existing health conditions.
Check out more tips on navigating the Mexican healthcare system here!
Get another perspective from Mexico Mike on Medical Care here!