A frequently asked question by Americans contemplating a move to Mexico is whether their Medicare coverage is valid here. The simple answer is no, but there are some caveats.
Who is eligible for Medicare
Medicare is only available to legal residents of the USA who are of a certain age (or with specific medical situations). Here are some helpful links for further research; we also recommend you talk to your insurance broker or healthcare providers about your individual situation.
- This Medicare page contains an eligibility questionnaire, and
- This page on the Medicare Interactive website describes the Medicare situation for those who live abroad; and
- This page on the Medicare website describes Medicare policies when outside of the U.S.
Access to Medicare outside of the USA
Outside of the 50 States and the District of Columbia, Medicare is only available in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.
Medicare may pay for specific types of medical care in a foreign country if a foreign hospital is closer to the nearest U.S. hospital should a medical emergency arise while you’re in the U.S., or traveling through Canada between the continental U.S. and Alaska; or if you live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition.
If you’re traveling on a ship, Medicare might pay for medically-necessary services provided the vessel is not more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.
In all cases, Medicare drug plans don’t cover prescription drugs you may buy outside the U.S.
You can get full details about the policies and coverage here on the U.S. Medicare official website.
Alternatives to Medicare when you’re in Mexico
When you’re planning to live in Mexico and need to consider health insurance coverages, there are several options you can consider.
Mexico’s IMSS coverage
As an alternative to Medicare, some foreign residents in Mexico opt to take Mexico’s government-sponsored IMSS health coverage under an insurance program that charges based on age-brackets; typically between US$50-$70 per month for someone of retirement age. Conditions and exclusions apply, and you must be a legal resident of Mexico to avail yourself of this coverage.
Private medical insurance
Private medical insurance is widely available in Mexico, with policies priced depending on the coverages you seek, your age, health, and medical history.
Medical evacuation insurance
If you’re only in Mexico for short periods, and you have coverages which give your healthcare options in your home country, you might consider a medical evacuation insurance plan to help you get back home in the event of medical emergency.
Discover options for healthcare coverages in Mexico
For details and descriptions of the various healthcare coverages available to foreign residents, read our article about Health and Medical Insurance Options for Mexico that includes options for short visits, extended stays, and long-term residency.
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