Medical Care Abroad
See our Local Resources page to find a medical resource in Mexico.
U.S. Government Responsibility
If an American citizen becomes seriously ill or injured abroad, the embassy or consulate can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing family or friends. If necessary, a consular officer can also assist in the transfer of funds from the United States. However, payment of hospital and other expenses is the responsibility of the traveler. More information can be found on the Department of State site at Medical Information for Americans Abroad.
To facilitate identification in case of an accident, complete the information page on the inside of your passport providing the name, address and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency.
Before going abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, remember to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form. Although many health insurance companies will pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States. Medical evacuation can easily cost $10,000 and up, depending on your location and medical condition.
Medicare does not provide for coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States.
Senior citizens may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.
Hospitalization in Mexico
Review the Department of State’s information on Your Health Abroad, which includes information on travel medical and medical evacuation insurance and the use of Medicare overseas. The Veterans Affairs health care program only reimburses registrants in the Foreign Medical Program for eligible health care costs in Mexico.
Hospital quality in Mexico varies. While most U.S. citizens have acceptable experiences in Mexico, some have reported hospitals failing to provide an itemized list of charges, withholding their passport, and/or delaying medical evacuation. Hospitals in Mexico usually require payment up-front for services and will place holds on credit cards when a patient is admitted. The U.S. government does not pay for medical care overseas. Some private U.S. insurance companies pay for overseas medical care, usually on a reimbursable basis, meaning you must pay first and request reimbursement later. Patients should contact their insurance company as soon as possible to understand what overseas services their insurance covers.
U.S. Mission Mexico recommends patients take the following actions regarding billing for hospital services:
- Obtain a written estimate in advance of any procedure or proposed treatment.
- Request an itemized bill daily.
- Express concerns about billing with the hospital administration immediately.
- If uncomfortable with costs, check with other hospitals and if medically possible, change hospitals.
- Immediately work with your insurance company – do not assume the hospital will.
- If it appears the dispute cannot be resolved, contact the U.S. Embassy, consulate, or consular agency for advice.
There are different types of hospitals in Mexico:
- Public clinics where patients pay for medication and other basic items.
- Public and private hospitals that generally provide a basic level of care, but may be unable to handle complex cases.
- Modern private facilities that provide high quality care at prices usually higher than in the United States.
- Lists of hospitals, doctors, and medical evacuation services are available at the Resource Navigator.
- When the patient wishes to leave Mexico immediately and travel on a commercial flight is not possible, you may wish to consider air ambulance/medical evacuation services. A list of providers is available in the Resource Navigator. These services are expensive, and we recommend contacting multiple companies for quotes.
- In Mexico, the Federal General Health Law (La Ley General de Salud) governs the rights and responsibilities of hospitals and patients. The key provisions of the law require the nearest medical facility to see patients with emergency medical conditions, that patients receive complete information about their diagnosis and care, and that patients authorize any treatment. Additionally, patients have the right to consent to treatment and where they will receive treatment. Hospitals may not retain or attempt to detain a patient, or his/her passport or body to guarantee payment of provided medical services. However, the patient, family member, or legal representative who authorized treatment is also responsible for arranging payment with the hospital administration and/or insurance company.