When Mexican President Andrés Manuel Obrador López Obrador — commonly referred to as AMLO –first announced over a year ago that he would be replacing Seguro Popular with something new, expats who relied on that program to meet their healthcare needs naturally became concerned.
At the time, it was unclear if foreigners would be eligible to participate in the new program, and if so, at what cost? Well, now we have some answers.
So Long Seguro Popular, Hello el INSABI
As of January 1st, 2020, Seguro Popular no longer exists. It has been replaced by el Instituto Nacional de Salud para el Bienestar , or el INSABI for short.
This is a substantial change in the law that extends free healthcare and medications to anyone not affiliated with one of the other Mexican social security health programs (IMSS, ISSSTE).
Here are some highlights:
It’s 100% free
The annual fees associated with Seguro Popular have been eliminated. Anyone who qualifies (see below) can obtain free healthcare and medications through el INSABI.
It’s much easier to qualify now
In the past, many foreigners have been denied continuing coverage under Seguro Popular for a variety of reasons. There are only three requirements now:
- Be a person located inside Mexico
- Not be part of the social security system (IMSS or ISSSTE)
- Present one of the following: Mexican Voter ID card, CURP or birth certificate
Only Mexican citizens and lawful residents will have a CURP, which is an alphanumeric identity code, but the federal health law (Artículo 77 bis 7) now states that if the person does not have a CURP, that a birth certificate will suffice.
There is no need to sign-up to participate
Under Seguro Popular, it was necessary to sign-up in order to receive benefits. All you have to do is present one of the documents listed in the previous section.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Since this new system has only been in place for less than 48 hours now, it’s impossible to know how this will work in the real world.
The good news is that as the law reads now, there is no requirement that a person has to be a citizen or even have Mexican residency to participate. The bad news is that could change in the near future as supporting regulations and internal agency policies are enacted.
We saw something like that happen in early 2018 when Mexico made substantial changes to the requirements to participate in Seguro Popular. They eliminated the sections of the procedural manual that allowed foreigners to participate at all.
The funny thing was that the new manual didn’t say foreigners couldn’t sign up, but it also didn’t say they could. The result was that many foreigners were turned down for coverage over the last year and a half or so.
Only time will tell how this will all work out. My advice for anyone whose move to Mexico hinges on being able to participate in the public healthcare system is to wait a little longer to see how this thing shakes out.
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