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Health insurance in Mexico

Health Insurance

International Insurance Plans
for Foreigners in Mexico
By Tony Hamrick © Tony Hamrick 2007

It is advisable to have international health insurance while traveling or living as an expatriate. Having an international health plan gives a person, family or group a variety of choices when it comes to health care. For example, a person covered by such a plan can choose a private hospital or any approved physician for their care.

If a person is living between countries, an international insurance plan may cover them in both countries and even worldwide, for a choice of policy limits that range from $50,000 USD to as much as $5,000,000 USD.

However, not having appropriate international health coverage might expose one or one’s family to a significant financial liability and impede appropriate care.

Some things to consider:

  • Many traditional domestic insurance plans won’t cover a person outside their home country.
  • Usually Mexico auto insurance plans are limited to $2000 USD of medical costs per each individual.
  • Medicare doesn’t cover outside of the USA.
  • A medically necessary air ambulance can cost $25,000 USD or more. Companies that offer only air ambulance insurance might have a 90-day waiting period for pre-existing medical conditions.

Short Term International Health Plans

These can cover a person for up to three years outside their home country. If a person lives permanently outside his or her home country or for the majority of the year, see International Major Medical Plans below.

International Major Medical Plans

These plans can cover a person for a lifetime if he or she is living in Latin America, Asia or Europe and can cover them in their home country too. Policies are renewable. These plans and the short-term plans cover costs of hospital and doctors, medicine, surgery, organ transplants, local and air ambulance, reunion of family members, and offer 24-hour-a-day, seven days a week support. There are more benefits than what is mentioned here.

International Life Insurance

Also available is international life insurance at discounted rates. Companies with two or more employees may qualify for discounted employer group rates.

Here are some plans and a detailed description of coverage, as applies to expatriates, visitors and retirees heading to Mexico.

Preventative examinations can detect a medical condition in the early stages before it grows and gains momentum.

Traditional domestic U.S. health insurance plans may have wellness (health checkup) benefits but the member usually cannot take advantage of these wellness benefits in Mexico.

International medical insurance carriers usually have limited dollar amounts, which can be used for routine health checkup exams. This might be a disappointment to someone holding an international health policy who may be accustomed to the rich wellness benefits of a U.S. domestic health insurer.

Medicare and Medicaid covered individuals could benefit from an international medical insurance policy since these government health plans do not cover Mexico or outside of the United States. See the Social Security Administration website.

Chronic Treatment for Current Medical Conditions in U.S. citizens over age 65

If a person is Medicare eligible or uninsured, he or she might need pay out of pocket for their chronic treatments in Mexico, and some also purchase a medical air evacuation policy. Most medical air evacuation policies have a 90 day waiting period on pre-existing medical conditions. Some individuals buy this whether they are visiting or staying long term. The risk with medical air evacuation policies is that most do not cover medical expenses. Some people are convinced that if they become seriously ill, they will buy a plane ticket and return to the U.S. to seek medical treatment by remaining eligible for Medicare and maintaining a Stateside residence.

There is a significant financial risk here. Mexico’s private hospitals have been known to require payment for medical services rendered before allowing a foreigner to leave the hospital, unless the patient’s insurer will issue a guarantee of payment letter. For some, these medical bills can be significant. A two week private hospital stay could approach or exceed $30,000 USD!

There are short-term international medical policies such as the Multinational Underwriters Atlas plan. There is no medical underwriting, and the Atlas plan covers sudden, unexpected and unforeseen medical expenses outside of the person’s home country of citizenship. These policies are renewable from as little as 5 days for up to 36 months, and deductibles vary from $0 to $2500 USD. The range of coverage amount is $50,000 to $1,000,000 USD. Generally, there are limits to coverage of pre-existing medical conditions. Chronic treatments are not covered. For details, visit www.azseguro.com

International major medical plans are available from IHI Danmark, an insurer who is part of the BUPA Group of companies (British United Provident Association).

IHI Danmark’s suite of plans allows a person to apply up to a maximum age of 74.

If the applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, they might be accepted with a premium load and a 4-week waiting period on the medical condition; this decision is made by a medical risk underwriter. If they accept the applicant, IHI Danmark would cover the treatments of the chronic condition after the deductable has been met, usually with a 4-week waiting period for the medical condition. An applicant could be accepted with a permanent exclusion on the medical condition, or could be declined.

IHI Danmark has a Diamond plan that covers up to $2 million USD annual. They also offer a popular Gold plan that covers up to $1.5 million USD annual, and a Silver reduced-benefits plan that covers up to $700,000 USD annual. There are no lifetime limit on these plans. The Gold plan is the most popular, and all have medical air evacuation benefits. Health check (wellness) benefits are limited to $600 USD a year on the Diamond Plan, and $300 on the Gold plan. There are no exclusions for hazardous sports or activities of any kind.

The IHI Superior plan has the best benefits I’ve ever seen on any health plan, anywhere. There is no deductible, and virtually everything medical, dental and vision related is covered at 100%. These plans are offshore insurance products, and work at private hospitals. More about these plans can be found by contacting the author.

Multinational Underwriters has two international major medical plans, called the Platinum and Premier. Both cover worldwide but the Platinum plan covers up to $5 Million USD and includes the U.S. and Canada. The Premier plan is a lower-benefits alternative covering up to $1 million USD. and coverage excludes the U.S. and Canada.

You can apply up to a maximum age of 74. If the application is made before age 65, the person can qualify for lifetime coverage. If he or she applies between the ages of 65 and 74, the policy will end at age 75.

If an applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted with a premium load and a waiting period on that medical condition. The applicant could be accepted with a permanent exclusion on the condition or could be declined.

Health check (wellness) benefits for the Platinum plan are limited to $250 USD a year for those who have been covered at least 12 months, and are not subject to a deductible.

The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS – the government’s social medical program – will not cover chronic treatments for new applicants with resident visas.

U.S. citizens under age 65

Usually people in this age class hold a U.S. domestic health policy or have COBRA benefits from a former employer. When traveling or moving to Mexico, they may maintain their existing policies and some return to the States for chronic treatments. Or they may pay their own medical expenses in Mexico out-of-pocket, as they are usually less expensive.

People considered uninsurable and without medical benefits might purchase a medical air evacuation policy. Most medical air evacuation policies have a 90 waiting period on pre-existing medical conditions. The uninsurable class of Americans are sometimes afraid to move from the United States for fear of being unable to secure medical coverage in Mexico. However, some have decided the benefits of living in Mexico far outweigh the risks and move to Mexico anyway.

There are short-term international medical policies such as the Multinational Underwriters Atlas plan. As mentioned earlier, the Atlas plan covers sudden, unexpected and unforeseen medical expenses outside of the person’s home country of citizenship.

There are international major medical plans from insurer IHI Danmark, part of the BUPA Group of companies (British United Provident Association).

IHI Danmark’s suite of plans allows a person to apply up to a maximum age of 74. If the applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted with a premium load and a 4-week waiting period on the medical condition. This decision is made by a medical risk underwriter. If the applicant is accepted, IHI Danmark would cover treatments of the chronic condition after the deductable has been met, usually with a 4-week waiting period. An applicant could be accepted with a permanent exclusion on the medical condition or the applicant could be declined.

IHI Danmark has a Diamond plan that covers up to $2 million USD annual, as well as a popular Gold plan that covers up to $1.5 million USD annual, and a Silver reduced-benefits plan that covers up to $700,000 USD annual. There are no lifetime limits on these plans. The Gold plan is the most popular, and all have medical air evacuation benefits. Health check (wellness) benefits are limited to $600 USD annual on the Diamond plan, and $300 on the Gold plan. There are no exclusions for hazardous sports or activities of any kind.

The IHI Superior plan has the best benefits I’ve ever seen on any health plan, anywhere. There is no deductible, and virtually everything medical, dental and vision-related is covered at 100%. These plans are offshore insurance products, and work at private hospitals.

Multinational Underwriters has two international major medical plans, called the Platinum and Premier. Both cover worldwide but the Platinum plan covers up to $5 Million USD and includes the U.S. and Canada. The Premier plan is a lower-benefits alternative covering up to $1 million USD. and coverage excludes the U.S. and Canada.

You can apply up to a maximum age of 74. If the application is made before age 65, the person can qualify for lifetime coverage. If he or she applies between the ages of 65 and 74, the policy will end at age 75.

If an applicant has a minor pre-existing medical condition, he or she might be accepted with a premium load and a waiting period on that medical condition. The applicant could be accepted with a permanent exclusion on the condition or could be declined.

Health check (wellness) benefits for the Platinum plan are limited to $250 USD a year for those who have been covered at least 12 months, and are not subject to a deductible.

The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS – the government’s social medical program – will not cover chronic treatments for new applicants with resident visas.

Unexpected, Unforeseen Illness or Injury

If a person is eligible for Medicare eligible, he or she might pay out-of-pocket for their unexpected, unforeseen illness or injury in Mexico. Some purchase a medical air evacuation policy. Most medical air evacuation policies have a 90 waiting period on pre-existing medical conditions. Some buy this whether they are visiting or staying long term.

There are short-term international medical policies such as the Multinational Underwriters Atlas plan, mentioned previously.

There are international major medical plans from insurer IHI Danmark, part of the BUPA Group of companies (British United Provident Association), as mentioned previously, for those living in Mexico.

The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS – the government’s social medical program can administer emergency treatment to visitors. The quality of care can be limited in remote areas.

Catastrophic Medical Event

Some purchase a medical air evacuation policy in case they should suffer a catastrophic medical event. Most medical air evacuation policies have a 90 waiting period on pre-existing medical conditions, and the plans usually include repatriation of remains in case of death. The risk with medical air evacuation-only policies is that they provide no medical coverage benefits in Mexico.

There are short-term international medical policies such as the Multinational Underwriters Atlas plan, mentioned previously. Catastrophic medical events are covered, per the policy limits. These plans usually include medical air evacuation benefits.

There are international major medical plans from insurer IHI Danmark, and Multinational Underwriters, as mentioned previously, for those living in Mexico. These plans, too, usually include medical air evacuation benefits.

The Mexican Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS – the government’s social medical program can administer emergency treatment to visitors. The quality of care can be limited in remote areas.

Company Employer International Group Medical Plans

International group medical plans can range in size from two employees and beyond, with no size limit. These plans can be custom designed with ease, based on the employer’s needs. Rates are usually lower than with domestic U.S. group plans.

There are group medical plans that guarantee issue, regardless of medical conditions of the employees (but with usually elevated premiums). Other such plans can be implemented where rates are based on the average age of the employees and disclosed medical conditions (if any). Deductibles can range from $250, $500, $1000, $2500, $5000 or $10,000. Coverage is worldwide and includes the U.S. and Canada.

To save on premiums, a plan can be implemented to cover worldwide but exclude the U.S. and Canada. Benefits include hospitalization, outpatient surgery, treatments, medicines and medical air-evacuation. The spread of medical risk among a pool of employees can possibly result in lower premiums and more flexibility, insuring employees who might have medical conditions.

Long Term Care Insurance

There are insurers offering long term care benefits that can be used to pay expenses in Mexico for someone who is chronically ill. Benefits are paid when the person cannot perform at least four of the six “Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)” without assistance. A physician must certify that the person meets these requirements.

International Life Insurance

Why do you need life insurance? Its main purpose is to provide cash to your family or business partners after you die. The money your dependents will receive – the “death benefit” – is an important financial resource. It can help pay the mortgage, run the household, and ensure that your dependents aren’t burdened with debt. These proceeds could mean that they won’t have to sell assets, homes, or rob retirement plans to pay outstanding bills or taxes. What’s more, there is usually no federal income tax on life insurance benefits.

Benefits from an international policy will be paid in U.S. dollars. With Latin America-based policies, the insurer would buy dollars to pay the death benefit or pay it in local currency.

Life Insurance is a tool to protect partners who are in business together. Policies can be a place where one can borrow money. There are optional critical illness policies, disability income riders and long term care benefits that can supplement a life insurance policy.

Disability Income Protection

Usually this is an option that can be added to international life insurance policies, at additional cost. These pay benefits outside the United States for up to 5 years.

http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/travel/thamrick/thamrick1207.html

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