Healthcare in Mexico

Mexico's public healthcare system is known as Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS). They provide universal healthcare to Mexican families and foreign residents (Expats). They also have a public option known as Seguro- Popular which is available for all residents of Mexico.

Tourists, Residente Temporal and Residente Permanente holders need to arrange for their own health care needs.  US Medicare and Canadian health coverage is not available in Mexico. 


Foreign residents (temporary or permanent) can apply for the Mexican public healthcare insurance system known an IMSS on a voluntary basis. This provides access to doctors, clinics and hospitals in the IMSS system in Mexico.  Some medications are also covered under this plan.  The cost for coverage depends on your age. There are restrictions and limitations that apply and some pre-existing conditions will disqualify you from enrolling and other pre-existing conditions will not be covered initially on these policies.

The following is a list of excluded conditions which include
mental illness, addictions, malignant tumors, congenital diseases  and HIV—among others.  You cannot enroll into the IMSS insurance program here in Mexico if you have any of the preexisting conditions . You can see a list of excluded and deferred pre-existing conditions here.

Demand for care is usually higher than the supply of services, so you may have to wait for care. (People who are enrolled in IMSS through an employer get priority over those who enroll voluntarily.)

There are two ways to  enroll:

  • First, anyone (foreign resident or Mexican national) who is formally employed in Mexico must pay their employee IMSS contributions and become enrolled in the program, regardless of any other private health insurance they may have;
  • The second is by voluntary enrollment, which is open to those not in formal employment and wishes to enroll on a voluntary basis. For example, foreign residents who live in Mexico and retired.

Expats or foreigners who wish to enroll voluntarily must a Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente VISA card to qualify.  FMM Tourist Card holders are not eligible.


The price for annual enrollment varies depending on your age. You can get the current rates from the table on this page.  We have a client here in Acapulco that is 73 years old and she pays $7,200 pesos per year. 
Approximately $ 390 USD per year or $ 534 Canadian per year at today's exchange rate.

Application and Payment

You can begin the application online or in person at your local IMSS office. You can register to access their web services here. You’ll then visit your local IMSS office to deliver your completed paperwork (original and copies), which includes:

  • Your current passport
  • Your current residency permit
  • Proof of address, e.g. your latest electricity bill
  • Marriage certificate* (if applicable)
  • Birth certificate(s)*
  • Application form and health questionnaire provided by IMSS
  • Two photographs, same format and rules as those for your residency permit. Passport size photos
  • Bank payment receipt for the first-year’s premium (made on the day you visit the local IMSS office)

Here is a list of required documents.

  • If you have foreign-issued marriage and/or birth certificates they will need to be Apostilled (sometimes referred to as ‘notarized’) and translated into Spanish before you can submit them along with your application. In the US this can be done at the Secretary of State office in the State where the documents were issued. Since Canadian documents can't be apostilled you can legalize them here.
Verify Canadian Documents

After Enrollment

After you have enrolled in IMSS, your coverage begins on the first calendar day of the  month following your application.

After you’re enrolled, you’ll be assigned to a local clinic, where you will go to see your doctor, go for regular check-ups, and obtain prescriptions for any medications you may need.  If you need the services of a specialist, referrals are made to IMSS medical specialists only via your assigned, primary care doctor.

Medications prescribed by your doctor can be obtained for no additional cost at the pharmacy associated with the local IMSS office.  However, not all medicines are available this way and if the medication you need is not available there, the doctor will give you a prescription to get the medicine at a private pharmacy and you will have to pay separately for this.

IMSS Exclusions

Your IMSS insurance does not cover eye care, dental, elective surgeries (e.g. plastic surgery, weight loss), infertility treatments, or treatments for self-inflicted injuries. IMSS coverage does not provide medical evacuation from Mexico, either.

INSABI (This replaced Seguro Popular)

INSABI is another option for foreigners residing in Mexico. It is available for all residents of Mexico as long as you are not affiliated with any other form of insurance in Mexico such as IMMS or ISSTE.  It is a free medical service that provides preventative health services, medical and surgical services as well as medicines. We do not recommend this as your primary medical coverage.

What Is Covered

INSABI is available but does not cover everything. It is not recommended as your primary care physician for foreigners.

Seguro Popular was ended and replaced by INSABI January 1, 2020

With Seguro Popular, it was necessary to sign-up in order to receive benefits. All you have to do now is present one of the documents listed below. The system implementation is different in each State

  1. Be located inside Mexico
  2. Not be part of the social security system (IMSS or ISSSTE)
  3. Present one of the following: Mexican Voter ID card, CURP or birth certificate