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Sunday, July 11, 2010

HEALTH & BEAUTY - How to Get Mexican Social Security


How to Get Mexican Social Security and Why You Should
by Lynn Russ

Currently, there are roughly one million expatriates living in Mexico. It is estimated by the year 2025 that number could rise to over five million. With that many new residents and retirees making the move across the border, plus many more vacationers, it only makes sense to receive standard or even specialized health care in Mexico rather than travel across the border for every appointment.

Getting enrolled in the Mexican Social Security system for health care is not a difficult process. There is no age limit to qualify, and the annual fee ranges from $100 to $300. The affordability compared to the cost of a plan in the U.S. plus travel expenses incurred if you had to cross the border for every appointment makes the Mexican system all the more appealing. Many foreigners and travelers buy into the plan just for the coverage in case of an emergency.

The process of getting Mexican Social Security starts by filling out a questionnaire and answering health questions, along with giving a health history. When you apply, you will need two photocopies of your passport and immigration documents. You can also present your FM-T, FM-2 and FM-3. A copy of your marriage license and copies of any utility bills or rental agreement are accepted forms of paperwork also. You have to apply during specific times throughout the year. January, July, August and February are the months open for application into the system. Once you are accepted, you will receive an Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) card. This card means you are accepted for life as long as you pay the annual fee. Once you receive a card, you must go to an IMSS clinic where you will be assigned a doctor and also be told the time of day in which you may come in for appointments.

The coverage is quite broad and certainly covers the needs of most. The system covers primary doctor exams, preventative care, consultations, diagnostic tests, hospitalization, surgical costs, prescription medications and dental plus optical coverage at certain places.

While most basic and emergency needs are met, there are pre-existing conditions that are not covered. There are also conditions that are not covered immediately. Benign breast tumors are not covered during the first six months of enrollment. The birth of a child is also not covered during the first ten months. Some pre-existing conditions that will not fall under your Mexican Social Security coverage include: cancer, malignant tumors, chronic diseases, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, lung disease, stroke, neurological disorders, drug or alcohol dependency, psychiatric illness, HIV/AIDS and particular traumatic or muscle injuries that still require long term treatment or care.

While the lists of exclusions may seem long, it is recommended that the average traveler invest in the plan to cover unforeseen costs during vacations. Anyone staying in the country longer than one month will want to sign up. Also, most of the clinics are very limited in their understanding of English. Therefore, if you do have to go to one of the clinics for care, you should either be very comfortable with your level of Spanish or take a translator with you. When you consider the low costs and the level of care the plan can cover, it is easy to see why so many find it better to be safe than sorry when it comes to buying into the Mexican Social Security plan.