Friday, September 26, 2014

I Joined IMSS (Mexican Universal Healthcare)

This week I signed up for IMSS.  My status here in Mexico is inmigrado and I have worked most of my 30 years here on my own.  I spent the first four years working for a company before making the change and had established myself in the IMSS system, Infonavit, and the Afores or the Mexican 401K.   Once I was self-employed, I let all of those services lapse and decided to sign up for private medical insurance.  Now at 57, that policy is becoming expensive albeit not like those of the U.S. or Canada.  I also want to be able to collect my Mexican social security as well as my American SS.   To enter the IMSS system again, I had to establish myself as an employee of a company for one year.   Fortunately, I am on the payroll of a private school.   All of my benefits are now retroactive.   I have five years to increase my SS account here in Mexico and will be able to pay in on my own although I cannot just throw money into my account but will have to justify its origins.   SAT (Mexican tax system also known as Lolita) is very strict these days and makes it hard to move money as all bank and invoicing is being tracked.  

My “new employer” set me up in the IMSS system and on my first visit I had to “dar de alta” or register.  I was looking forward to a long line, bureaucracy, and general malaise from employees.  I was assigned to my local IMSS hospital and clinic in Santiago, NL.   I was greatly surprised to find that not every office, hospital or clinic is alike.   The hospital is over 40 years old and in very good condition; clean, well-maintained, fairly modern and up to date.  

I wasn’t sure where to go when I entered and found an office near the front entrance that says, “quejas y ayuda” (complaints and assistance).  Two young women working behind their desk were very friendly and eager to help me.   They directed me to “ventanilla uno”  or window number one.   A young man asked me what I wanted and I told him.   I was waiting for him to ask me for some identification, paperwork or a thousand copies of something I didn’t have.   To the contrary, he asked for my electric bill, my Immigration ID, and a copy of my CURP which is my official registration in the tax system that everyone who works in the formal market has to have.   I showed them to him, he entered me into the system and handed back my originals.   He asked if I had a picture with me which I did and he affixed it to my booklet.   He handed me the booklet and said, Bienvenidos a Seguro Social.   All of five painless minutes. 

I then returned to my friends in the complaints and assistance department and asked them how to start getting my check ups.  In IMSS we have PrevenIMSS or preventive medicine.   All I do is go during my selected time which is any day from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and set my booklet into the order box.   I take a seat and wait for them to call me.  From there, I can request a regimen of regular testing for all general preventive medicine tests such as blood pressure, cholesterol, prostate, EKG, stress test, and general blood workup.  

In November I will test the system to see how it works.


  1. Seems simple enough. Don't you have some sort of a waiting period though whereby you get a little more coverage every year or something? I thought I remembered reading something about that.

    1. In my case, I was already in the system. That holds true for new members. Even still, for the amount that you would pay, it is very inexpensive. Many people talk about Seguro Popular. Problem there is that it does not cover many terminal illnesses and under no circumstance is it free to foreigners unless they are not telling the truth on their applications. Let's see what happens over the next year.