A little about Mexico…
A country that spans almost 2 million square kilometers is bound to be rife with a range of history and cultures and Mexico is no different. Mexico’s economy is a mix of modern and older industries, the main ones being: tobacco, chemicals, food and beverages, iron and steel, mining, textiles, and tourism. The national language is unsurprisingly Spanish, with the majority of the population classing themselves as Mestizo (a combination of Spanish and indigenous descent). Its total population is estimated at over 130 million as of 2019, with 83% of them Catholics according to the 2010 census. Although the Vatican may be the center of Catholicism globally, Mexico is second only to Brazil in the number of Catholic nationals. So, why not enjoy a tequila sunrise, whilst watching the sunrise on the breathtaking Eastern coast?
Now that you know a bit more about the country, let’s give you a run through on how their healthcare system works.
Catholic but no Christmas?Mexican children receive their gifts on January 6th, rather than the 25th of December, as they celebrate the day of the Three Wise Men bringing gifts to Jesus instead of his birth.
The sinking cityForget Venice, Mexico City, despite being one of the largest cities in the world, is actually sinking. Due to growing demands on the aquifer beneath, the capital is believed to sink 3 feet a year!
You can’t put a tax on beautyIf you are an artist in Mexico - or not - you can actually pay your taxes with the artwork that you create. Maybe those still life lessons were worth it after all!
The Healthcare System in Mexico
Mexico's healthcare system is certainly a mixed bag, depending on who and where you are. The government has invested lots of money since 2004 in an attempt to make healthcare available for all Mexicans, currently investing around 6.4% of its' GDP per year. Its' system is broken up into three separate, unequal sections. The first section is provided by 6 government-run organizations and looks after around 50 million of the population. The second provides for the poorer citizens who cannot afford insurance and is run by the Health Secretariat, it offers very limited health services such as child re-hydration and selected vaccinations. The third system is the Private sector, used by about 3 million Mexicans. Despite this, around 25% of uninsured patients prefer to use this system, regardless of its' extra expense. This is largely because these hospitals offer some of the best tertiary healthcare services in the world.
The first two sections make up the public health system. The first is referred to as the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), whereas the second is called Seguro Popular. You don’t have to be a Mexican to be eligible for these systems, instead you can either be employed full time by a Mexican company, or apply independently. The first year under the IMSS only covers medical attention, it is only in the second year of your coverage that you will be eligible for the full range of services, including: hospital visits, surgeries, prescriptions etc. It is important to note that these services are solely offered in Spanish, so you may have to rely on some friendly interpretation. You can also apply to the Seguro Popular scheme as an expat, with the premiums charged according to factors such as income, whether you own a property, have children etc.
Although healthcare costs are considerably lower than in the US for example, costs are still high and so we would recommend being covered. Despite general high levels of quality in public healthcare, naturally on account of the high population there can be a strain on the services. There can be large queues, a lack of English-speaking doctors, low numbers of government-subsidized hospitals and other factors that make private insurance more favourable. For this reason, many expats opt for private insurance to make sure you get access to all hospitals and the top level of care available. That was an introduction to the healthcare system that Mexico uses today, but let’s look at the next issue on the agenda: VISAs. Below we have listed the most common types of VISA that people tend to use.
1. Tourist / Business VISA
Some airlines offer a Blue Tourist Card on their flights allowing for you to travel to Mexico for tourism. If this is not possible, you will need to get a VISA. This VISA is for you if you are visiting Mexico for the purpose of: tourism, business, transit or other activities that do not have a work authorization. You need proof of permanent residency of another country, financial sufficiency for your stay and details of your return flight and itinerary. It costs around US$22, is valid for 6 months and cannot be extended.
2. Work VISA
This VISA is for those who plan to receive a salary or payment whilst in Mexico. You (or your employer) will have to apply for official authorization from the National Immigration Institute in Mexico and they will issue an authorization number (also called a NUT number). Once you have received this, you must organize an appointment with the consulate including an interview, after which they will either accept or reject your application.
3. Permanent Resident Status
To apply for permanent residency, you must fulfill at least 1 of the following criteria: a) Have close family connections to one or more Mexican citizens. b) Apply for retirement status, proving that you are economically self-sufficient. c) Have 4 consecutive years experience as a temporary resident. d) Have 2 consecutive years of the above, if you are married to a Mexican citizen or a permanent resident. e) Be granted residency under special circumstances e.g. political asylum.
4. Student VISA
This VISA is for you if you intend to study in Mexico for longer than 180 days. If the duration of your study is less than 180 days, then you can enter with just a tourist visa. You will need an official acceptance letter at a recognized Mexican educational institution, proof of economic sufficiency for the duration of your stay and proof of residence in another country.