Medical Insurance A Necessity When Visiting or Living in Puerto Vallarta

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that life can surprise us at any moment and planning for the unexpected just might be a good idea.

If you’re planning a trip (or a move) to Puerto Vallarta, you may want to explore options for medical and travel insurance just in case one of those little surprises pop up. It may shock you to find out that your US or Canadian health insurance may not cover you when traveling out of the country.  You sure don’t want to have to set up a Go Fund Me page to cover an unexpected medical emergency. For individuals on U.S. Medicare, they may be surprised to learn that it more than likely does not cover if you are outside the U.S. 

Major medical problems can drain a person’s finances, and the reality is that planning for the unexpected should be an important part of your budget when you are looking to visit or relocate to Mexico. Mexico is the third ranked country in the Americas with the highest cost of healthcare (US 1st and Brazil 2nd) and the price difference between minor and major medical problems in Mexico is significant. 

Additionally, hospitals in Mexico require that patients leave a deposit upfront, even if their insurance company has a direct-payment contract with the hospital. The reason is that the hospital doesn’t know if the patient has coverage for the medical problem that put them in the hospital, or if the patient has a deductible to meet, or if the sum insured won’t suffice, etc. Once the insurance provider and hospital have agreed to the payment, the deposit is released, and the patient is only responsible for their deductible or copay if applicable.

And it can get expensive – if you are admitted and in the hospital for more than 24 hours, that credit card hold we just talked about could run in the range of $3,000 – $5,000 USD (even if you have insurance).  If you don’t have insurance, you will be required to pay for the service in cash, credit card or wire transfer prior to discharge. 

There are really two different main types of medical insurance available for those traveling to México – one is short term for tourists and visitors who plan on a short stay – typically 180 days or less. The other is a long-term plan that is designed for those expats living in México.

Travel medical insurance is really designed for accidents or medical emergencies, and typically will only cover the stabilization expenses. If you need additional treatment, that treatment normally won’t be covered under this type of plan. You would need to go back to your home country or pay out of pocket.  Travel insurance policies will vary in price based on your needs, deductibles, coverage maximums, etc. 

Policies for expats living in Mexico are designed to cover emergencies and major medical issues. They provide options for guaranteed coverage for any conditions that develop and can be renewed each year as long as you keep the policy in effect.

Again, pricing on these policies will depend on a variety of factors, and the type of coverage that an individual thinks they may need. But be aware that these policies don’t normally cover you if you return to the United States (coverage does vary and check with an agent on this). 

Some things you may want to look for in a provider are (and this is really personal preference): 

  • Does the company offer bilingual assistance?
  • Do they have policies that allow for your choice (or a wide choice) of doctors and hospitals?
  • Do they provide direct payment benefit to the hospital?
    Do they have a policy structure that is simple to understand?

So, plan and research this before you travel or move. If you’d like more information, we encourage you to reach out to the two companies that advertise with O&APV. Their contact information is listed below and you can check out their ads in this issue or look for them in the business directory. 

Antonio Trejo
+52 322-132-8086
Guardian Insurance MX

Brett LaMar
Insurance Agent for Expat Health and Life Insurance
+52.322.274.0391 Mobile or WhatsApp


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