Hospitals in Mexico: An Expat’s Guide

Hospitals in Mexico An Expat’s Guide

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Hospitals are not something you may necessarily want to think about when you move to Mexico. However, the reality is that when you make your move here, you will want to find the best hospital for you and your family.

After all, you never know when an emergency may arise. 

Instead of scrambling at the last minute to find a hospital in your area, you can choose one beforehand that you know is reputable and that will provide you with the best care.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to finding a hospital in Mexico. In fact, Mexico boasts some of the best hospitals and medical care in the world. But of course, this doesn’t mean personal preference doesn’t come into play. For example, would you be happy to be treated in a public or private hospital?

To help you decide, in this article we’ll discuss hospitals in Mexico, how to make an appointment, and even list some of the best ones in the country.

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Public vs. Private Hospitals

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when choosing a hospital is picking between a public or private healthcare facility.

There are over 4,000 hospitals all over Mexico. Around 70 percent of these hospitals are private with the remaining 30 percent being public. There are pros and cons to both types of hospitals, and which one you choose will be up to you, your needs, and your budget.

Public Hospitals

Public hospitals are not normally a top choice for many expats, especially if you need a particularly important or complicated surgery.

But this does not mean that public hospitals in Mexico are lackluster. In fact, many of the public hospital doctors and nurses are well-trained and highly regarded. The issue, rather, lies in the unfortunate reality of limited resources and equipment.

Public hospitals only make up around 1,000 of the hospitals throughout Mexico, so there is quite a shortage of them compared to private ones. Especially since most Mexicans opt for public healthcare rather than private. This often leads to long waits not only for emergency rooms but also specialized treatment.

However, the main advantage of choosing a public hospital is that for both temporary and permanent Mexican residents, treatment at these public hospitals will generally be free of charge.

As long as you have a social security number (CURP), you’re covered by INSABI or IMSS – both of which are government schemes that part of Mexico’s healthcare system.

If you do not qualify for free healthcare in Mexico, you can still expect more than fair prices to be treated at a public hospital. For this reason, public hospitals are a popular choice for expats who are on a budget and who have no health insurance in Mexico.

If this situation applies to you, a local public hospital would be the way to go.

Private Hospitals

Most expats and people who retire in Mexico choose to get treated at private hospitals. You not only have more private hospitals to choose from throughout the country, but you also get up-to-date medical equipment and resources not often found in public hospitals.

Even though public hospitals in Mexico normally have doctors and nurses that can speak English, you can be certain that private hospitals have English-speaking doctors often trained in the U.S. or Canada. Additionally, there is often the added perk of having other medical staff like receptionists that are fluent in English.

The communication, medical equipment, and resources may seem like a dream, but all of this does come with a price.

Private hospitals in Mexico are much more expensive than public ones. However, as a matter of perspective, American expats usually come to find that even private hospitals in Mexico are not as expensive as hospitals in the U.S.

If you have insurance that can cover any treatments at a private hospital, this cost may not even be a consideration. But keep in mind that even if you do have insurance, private hospitals often require a credit card hold even before you are admitted.

Hospitals do this to make sure you can pay before they verify the level of coverage provided by your insurance.

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Doctors in Mexico

The first level for medical care in Mexico, as with most other countries, lies in the hands of the general practitioner, or GP. GPs can be found all throughout Mexico in hospitals and in clinics of their own.

If you have any medical concern that you’re looking to raise, the first step would be to contact your GP. If you don’t have one in Mexico, ask friends and family for recommendations or look for a reputable one online.

Once you make an appointment, the GP should be able to give you the best course of action. After seeing you, your GP either prescribes you medicine or refers you to a specialist.

Specialists in Mexico are the second level of care. There is a long list of specializations, including:

  • orthopedics
  • fertility
  • bariatric
  • gynecology
  • cosmetic
  • urology

It is not always necessary to see a GP before you see a specialist in Mexico, but it’s recommended as you may not necessarily know who to see for your specific needs. 

However, if you have no doubt that you need to see a urologist, then you can book an appointment without a referral.

You can find specialist doctors on websites such as Doctoralia or by contacting your local hospital.

Making an Appointment

If you need to go to a hospital for an emergency, you will, of course, be seen as soon as possible or be asked to wait. However, there are also instances when you would need to make an appointment to go to the hospital in Mexico.

The range of services hospitals offer mean that people go to hospitals for a variety of reasons. This can range from needing an x-ray to getting surgery.

Whatever the reason for making an appointment, the process is different depending on what hospital you choose. But most hospitals should follow a similar process.

Public Hospitals

In this day and age, it might be expected to have an online appointment booking system in place. But public hospitals in Mexico don’t have these online systems yet — though hopefully that will change soon.

So, in order to make an appointment, contact the hospital.

You can find the hospital’s contact number on Google or its website. You should still be able to make an appointment over the phone even if you don’t speak Spanish.

An alternative to a phone call is to simply walk into the hospital to make an appointment at the reception.

Some public hospitals have an online contact form that can be used to make an appointment as well. However, the recommendation is to call as it’s easier to ensure that the hospital has all of your details to make an appointment in one go.

Private Hospitals

Contrary to public hospitals, almost all private hospitals have some kind of online booking system to make an appointment. They may ask you to provide a preferred appointment date and time or to choose an available one online.

Other private hospitals may simply ask for your contact details through an online form. Once you send your details, a receptionist calls you to make an appointment.

Alternatively, you can simply call reception at your chosen private hospital and speak with someone to make an appointment.

Required Documents for Hospital Appointments

Whether you go to a public or private hospital, the documents required for your hospital appointment are the same.

The only difference is that for a public hospital, you need your CURP if you are eligible for free public healthcare.

Besides that, the required documents are as follows:

  • your passport
  • past medical records
  • private insurance details, if applicable

Follow-Up Appointments

When you’re at your first hospital appointment, your doctor or nurse will let you know if you need to come back for any follow-up appointments.

In most cases, they help you make a follow-up appointment at that moment, so keep your calendar close in hand to let them know what days you’re free.

On the day of the follow-up appointment, the hospital will already have your details in the system, so you just need to verify your who you are by showing them your ID.

Then, you should be good to go.

Hospital Waiting Times

Public hospitals have notoriously long waiting times. According to the Salud Publica de Mexico, the average waiting time for a surgical procedure at a public hospital in Mexico lies somewhere between 12 to 15 weeks. And the average waiting time for a diagnostic procedure is shorter at 11 weeks.

Hospital Waiting Times
The first step to seeing a GP in Mexico is to make an appointment either online or in-person.

In terms of urgent care, patients in public hospitals can wait for most of the day before being seen by a doctor. So, in some cases, hospital staff may ask the patient to come back the next day.

Similarly to urgent care, an appointment to see a general practitioner is normally scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. This means there are often patients waiting in front of a GP clinic from the early morning in order to see a doctor.

On the other hand, private hospitals have much shorter waiting times.

Most notably, in order to see a specialist, a patient at a private hospital can get an appointment within a few days. And for any surgical procedures, most patients will wait up to a couple of weeks after the initial consultation with the specialist.

In terms of GP appointments, private clinics and hospitals have a scheduling system in place. This means patients don’t have to line up for hours to see the doctor. They can simply book a time that suits them.

Due to the stark differences in waiting times between public and private hospitals, most expats opt for private hospitals. After all, undergoing an important surgery weeks and months ahead might make all the difference.

Prices

Here’s a price breakdown of general hospital services, and the cost differences between public and private hospitals.

Keep in mind that private hospitals have a wider price range, as the costs differ depending on which hospital you choose.

Doctor’s Visits

A general medical consultation with a doctor at a public hospital in Mexico costs around MXN400 to MXN830, or US$20 to US$40

Expect to pay around MXN830 to MXN1030 pesos, or US$40 to US$50 at a private hospital.

Scans

To get an ultrasound in a public hospital, you’ll pay around MXN520 to MXN720, or US$25 to US$35.

At a private hospital, an ultrasound costs between MXN1,000 to MXN1,500, or US$48 to US$73.

Hospital Rooms

For basic hospitalization in a public hospital room, the daily rate lies around MXN8,000 to MXN9,000, or US$385 to US$435.

On the other hand, private hospitals charge around MXN10,000 to MXN20,000 per day. That’s around US$480 to US$965.

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Surgeries

Surgery costs depend on what kind of surgery you need and how complicated it is. The actual cost of surgery at a public hospital is hard to pinpoint as it depends on the individual, but most general surgeries seem to lie between MXN22,000 to MXN35,000 pesos, or US$1,050 to US$1,700.

surgery

At a private hospital, a hysterectomy, for example, costs around MXN93,000 to MXN135,000, or US$4,500 to US$6,500.

Getting to a Hospital

There are different ways to get to a hospital and they depend on how urgent your medical needs are.

Of course, if you need to get to a hospital as soon as possible due to a cardiac arrest or another life-threatening emergency, your best bet would be to call 911.

Within a few minutes of the call, you should have an ambulance ready to take you from your home or apartment in Mexico to the nearest hospital to get you the urgent care you need.

More than likely, the ambulance that takes you to the hospital will be privately owned, so expect to be charged if you don’t have insurance.

Another option if the situation is urgent but not life-threatening is to simply hop in a taxi or drive to the hospital.

If you’re close enough to a hospital, this may even be a quicker option as you won’t need to explain your situation to the 911 operator or wait for the ambulance to arrive.

On the other hand, if you’re going to the hospital for a non-urgent appointment, there is no need to hurry there. In this situation, you can go with your usual method of transportation to get there.

Medication and Pharmacies

Most visits to the doctor end in a trip to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. If you have seen a doctor in a hospital, you could even pick up the prescription at the hospital’s pharmacy, saving you an extra trip on your road to recovery.

You won’t have any trouble finding pharmacies in Mexico as they are on pretty much every corner. Most pharmacies close anywhere from 10pm to midnight, but there are pharmacies that stay open 24/7 for any late-night needs.

Furthermore, some pharmacies even provide a home delivery service.

Mexican pharmacies don’t tend to stockpile medicines, so if you need to pick up a larger prescription, you may have to put an order through first and pick up the medication a few days later when it arrives.

A great advantage of Mexican pharmacies is that many of them, like Similares or Del Ahorro, have a doctor available in-house.

These consultorios are a great option if you have any small issues that you want to discuss with a doctor in order to get the right medication for it. They can even help with other issues like stitches and blood pressure checks all for just a couple of pesos – one of the perks of living in a country with such a low cost of living.

In terms of medical tourism, if you plan to bring prescription drugs back to your home country, you need to check with the regulations of your country.

On the other hand, if you plan to bring any prescription medications into Mexico, make sure to keep the medication in its original labeled containers along with the prescription. And a good rule of thumb is to not bring any more than 90 days worth of medication. 

It’s also worth noting that some medication that’s not available over the counter in other countries may be available in Mexico. For example, Viagra (a prescription medicine in many countries) can be found over the counter at almost any pharmacy in Mexico.

Best Hospitals in Mexico

The best hospital in Mexico for you is going to depend on a number of factors, like insurance, location, type of treatment needed, and more. You should do your research to pick the best hospital for you.

To help you start your research, let’s go over what are considered some of the best hospitals in Mexico due to outstanding service, top-notch facilities, and competent doctors.

But keep in mind that this is in no way a complete list, and just because a hospital is considered one of the best doesn’t always mean that it’s the best option for you.

Ultimately, the best hospital is the one that can treat you with the care you need and that is closest to you.

With that said, let’s jump into the list, starting with public hospitals first.

Public Hospitals

Here are some of what are considered the best public hospitals in Mexico.

IMSS – Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI

The Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI is a public hospital under the IMSS scheme. It was built in 1961 and is administered by the Ministry of Health. It is located in Cuauhtémoc in Mexico City.

IMSS

This hospital is known for its specializations in cardiology, pediatrics, and oncology. It boasts over 800 beds and modern facilities.

If you’re covered by the IMSS scheme (that is, if you are employed by a Mexican company), this is a great public hospital choice in Mexico City.

Hospital Civil De Guadalajara Juan I. Menchaca

Hospital Civil De Guadalajara is a university hospital and boasts two hospital units. The first is the Fray Antonio Alcade Hospital and the newer campus is the Juan I. Menchaca Hospital.

Hospital Civil De Guadalajara Juan I. Menchaca

As the name suggests, they are both located in Guadalajara. And as university hospitals, they both serve as teaching hospitals for future medical professionals as well.

The Civil Hospitals of Guadalajara make sure that they are meeting the needs of their patients and provide quality care.

Private Hospitals

Most expats choose to go to a private hospital rather than a public one. For this reason, the list of the best private hospitals is much longer. Here are just some of the best private hospitals throughout Mexico.

Hospital Médica Sur

Médica Sur is located in Mexico City and is considered one of the most prestigious and famous medical centers in all of Mexico.

Médica Sur is JCI accredited and has almost 4,000 doctors, surgeons, and nurses that treat 15,000 patients every year.

This private hospital is known for neurology, orthopedics, cardiology, and oncology. It also offers medical tourism services, which makes it a popular choice for tourists as well as expats.

Its high-end technology and standards make the hospital one of the best in Mexico.

Centro Médico ABC

Centro Médico ABC is a private hospital also located in Mexico City. It has two campuses – one in Santa Fe and the other in Observatorio.

Centro Médico ABC

Both of these campuses have hundreds of internationally recognized doctors and professionals looking after thousands of patients.

This hospital uses the latest technology in a variety of different specialties, leading to each of the campuses getting the JCI certification.

It is internationally recognized as a health institution that has one of the highest standards of quality and safety in the world. 

Hospital Ángeles

The Angeles Group has 25 hospitals under its name. Its hospitals work hard to ensure that patients are well looked after for any of their needs.

Hospital Ángeles

You can find a Hospital Ángeles throughout Mexico, in cities such as Tijuana, Puebla, and Mexico City.

The hospitals in this network are self-contained so patients don’t have to leave for anything.

Besides the usual modern facilities available in most private hospitals, they also have gyms, cafeterias, and even libraries. Additionally, they are fully equipped to look after medical tourists.

Amerimed Cancun Hospital

Amerimed Hospital offers a wide range of routine and emergency services for its patients.

Amerimed Cancun Hospital

The hospital has doctors on call 24/7, so if you ever find yourself in need of a doctor in Cancun, you know this hospital has you covered. Their staff is also supported by the latest technology.

Moreover, it’s recognized worldwide as a healthcare provider due to its quality of service and equipment available.

And they aim to continue to deserve this recognition by offering top-notch services to patients and families. They call themselves a “one-stop” service for all things medical, as they provide a range of services, from inpatient care to intensive care and more.

Hospital Español

Hospital Español is another private hospital located in Mexico City. It was founded in 1842 and the hospital hosts 400 beds throughout its 19 buildings.

Hospital Español

This hospital is a part of the Sociedad de Beneficiencia Española and boasts a wide range of over 30 specializations, including:

  • allergology
  • cardiology
  • geriatrics
  • gynecology
  • oncology
  • orthopedics
  • urology

Hospital Star Médica

Star Médica is a private hospital group founded in 2002. As its quite new, this hospital boasts modern facilities and equipment throughout its 15 hospitals in Mexico. It has locations in Mexico City, Chihuahua, Merida, Veracruz, and more. 

Hospital Star Médica

Its hospitals offer services such as emergency care, surgery, ICU, NICU, laboratory, rehabilitation, cardiovascular care, and cardiology.

Moreover, its ultra-modern facilities include spacious hospital rooms and state-of-the-art equipment. And as a plus, since it’s a hospital popular with expats, they’ll be familiar with your needs.

Hospital Galenia

Hospital Galenia in Cancún, Quintana Roo, is probably one of Cancún’s most well-known private hospitals, with expats and vacationers alike making it their preferred hospital.

Hospital Galenia

It offers multiple services, including:

  • general surgery
  • cardiology
  • urology
  • plastic surgery
  • dentistry
  • brain surgery

Galenia is equipped with the latest technology and has a team of amazing medical professionals that support the patients in the quality of medical care it offers.

Now, on to You

As mentioned already, the hospitals listed above are only a fraction of the best hospitals in Mexico. Mexico has some of the best hospitals in the world, which is only confirmed by the millions of medical tourists that come to the country every year for care.

Although not all hospitals may have state-of-the-art facilities or shiny new buildings, patient care remains consistent throughout the country. Doctors and nurses in Mexico care and take great pride in looking after their patients.

So, if you’re an expat living in Mexico, you’re in luck. No one wants to think about going to the hospital, but the reality is that accidents and illnesses do happen. And when they do, you’ll be glad to know that you’re in safe hands, whether you go to a public or private hospital.

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Lev is a writer passionate about inspiring more people to travel and explore the world. He left his Texas home in 2016 to see the world. He has been to over 30 countries and has now immigrated to New Zealand permanently. Lev enjoys summer weather, outdoor activities, and good food.