Seguro Popular, A Health Care Option in Mexico for Foreigners



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Les Carmona

Back in 1992, Mexico created a program to provide health care for anyone who does not qualify for employer-supported medical insurance. There are pluses and minuses to the system but it remains a great way to provide you and your family access to wellness.

Known as Seguro Popular, or public insurance, it forms part of the social health protection system administered by the Secretary of Health and the National Health Commission.

Persons affiliated with the program have access to medical and dental, surgical services, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. As of October, 2012, there are nationwide 52, 871,916 members and are covered for 284 procedures and over 1500 illnesses at 100% of cost. Eligibility is based on two very simple qualifiers: you need to be a Mexican resident and you do not have access to any other social security programs such as IMSS or ISSSTE. Foreigners are welcome and encouraged to join.

Based on socioeconomic status each household pays as little as nothing or up to 11,378.86 pesos per year. A handful of questions set the amount to pay and the data is reviewed every three years. Some of the factors used to determine the annual fee are whether or not the policyholder owns a dwelling, what the dwelling is made of, whether or not it has a floor, or a stove, or a refrigerator, or a toilet. The more members there are in the household, the higher the annual cost. Individuals may enroll with a 50% discount over the corresponding family rate.

Critics of the program cite frequent long waits for appointments and a severe lack of drugs and medical supplies. During the last presidential election, it was proposed that vouchers be provided when local dispensaries did not have the prescribed medicines or apparatus, so that policyholders would not be forced to do without or pay out of pocket. To date, no legislation exists.

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