Want Free Health Care? Visit Mexico City

Although the A/H1NI flu virus (referred to as the swine flu) outbreak didn’t kill everyone like alarmist media commentary led us to believe it would, it did deal a devastating blow to the Mexican tourism industry. The sprawling metropolis’s hotels are lonely places these days, sitting at 27 percent capacity compared to 50 percent a year ago.

To get things going again, the Mexico City government is hooking up every visitor with health insurance.

“Tourists will be insured the moment they register in their hotels,” Alejandro Rojas, the city’s tourism minister, told the Financial Times on Friday.

The cover, which will be provided by ACE Seguros, the Mexican arm of the ACE Group, an international insurer, will allow any foreign tourists to seek medical attention at private hospitals throughout the city. It will not cover long-term maladies or illnesses contracted before arrival.

The city government announced that it would also launch a bank card for national tourists visiting Mexico City, which would give them an interest-free loan for purchases made in the capital and payable via monthly deductions from their salary.

Whoah, there. Interest-free loans on top of free health care? Mexico City, you should have no problem luring Gringos with such grandiose perks. The problem will be getting them to leave.


Mexico City offers free health cover [Financial Times]
(Photo: robinryan.ca)


Edit Your Comment

  1. I Love New Jersey says:

    But the downside is you’ll be getting the non-union Mexican equivalent health care.

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    No, it’s not nearly as ridiculously dangerous as the CDC and everyone else got their panties in a twist about…but authorities are still finding new cases and people are still dying, even though they’ve all had preexisting medical conditions.

    • picardia says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Not every person who has died had a pre-existing medical condition. But I agree — although the media coverage got hysterical, a bad worldwide flu outbreak is a genuine reason for serious concern.

    • Shoelace says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Nobody seems to make the point that the elderly and people with chronic conditions are at particular risk from swine flu since there’s no vaccine yet. These are the people who are generally advised to get a flu shot each year and in doing so significantly reduce complications/ mortality from the flu. Even if you’re being careful (e.g., staying away from Mexico), the young and generally healthy people around you may catch it, not feel too sick, and spread it.

  3. HiPwr says:

    Next time I plan on breaking my leg, I’ll head to Mexico first. There wouldn’t be a deductable with that free health insurance, would there?

    I also think it would be fun to take out an interest-free loan and give the Mexican government direct access to my bank account. That would be sweet.

    • bohemian says:

      @HiPwr: I wish I could remember what paper had the article. Some guy in NYC broke his leg, didn’t have insurance so he had his friends drive him to Canada to get it fixed.

      Mexico has not gone as far as actually enticing people with free routine health care but there is some untapped potential. If they could organize and certify pharmacies in Mexico to do mail order prescriptions to the US and do more to facilitate safe modern medical facilities near the border they might be onto something.

      They will have to fix the pesky corruption and drug wars first though.

      Cuba on the other hand holds even more potential. Health care is the idea trade opening sector with Cuba. Cuba has a fairly decent system for training doctors. Medical care there could be extremely cheap with the overhead cost differences. Cuba has income, more trade going back and forth, affordable health care. Sort of what India has been doing only closer.

      • Julius_Seizure says:

        @bohemian: An american going to a hospital in Canada to get treated doesn’t equate to free health care. The provincial government has set rates on procedures and non-Canadian citizens are required to pay the full amount incurred, often upfront. Mind you, the cost of getting treated in Canada is often quite a bit lower than it is in the states, but it’s far from free. And the quality of the hospitals/urgent care in Canada is quite good.

        There’s a crazy statistic about the Canadian v. American health care system. Roughly 30 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to overhead costs. In the Canadian system, only 1 cent of every dollar spent goes to overhead.

  4. tonashideska says:

    Want free health care for life? Become a congressman and let the tax payers take care of you.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @tonashideska: Which, of course, is more repulsive when it’s coming from Conservative pols saying, “Keep the status quo, peons. “Free Market” all the way. I’ve got my Canadian-style Socialist medical care, so Yippee for ME!”

      • henwy says:


        Bsy t wrk ndr yr brdg gn s. D y vr gt trd f trllng nd bng dch? Srsly.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @henwy: Is it false?
          Is there not an issue of hypocrisy if a pol is saying one thing for everyone else, when he’s got lifetime, gold-plated, “Socialist” medicine?
          Ted Kennedy, under the same situation, doesn’t suffer the same fault: he’s trying to fix things and would be the first to say the current system is broken. Conservatives, on the other hand, say the opposite. So… Yeah.

          2nd point: I’m replying to someone in a contributing fashion, pointing out an aspect he probably didn’t consider. It’s a point of discussion, not a troll.

          3rd point: you’re seemingly getting your undies in quite the bunch following my comments with “TROLL!”
          You really need to update your act, it’s not all that amusing, repeats dreadfully and adds nothing to the conversation. Although “douche” is a classy addition. But next time, try harder?

          • henwy says:


            Of course it’s false. If they were working in the private sector as CEO’s hey would have gold-plated company medicine. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference in this case. The idea of socialized medicine isn’t simply about where the funds come from, but who is covered, you ignorant blowhard. If you believe that employers should provide health care coverage in general, well the government is an employer too. That wouldn’t make you a person who promotes socialized health care unless you also believed that the government should cover non-employees as well.

            Understand or do I have to draw you a picture?

            If there anyone’s schtick whose worn, its yours. I only started commenting on it goaded by your ridiculous hypocrisy when you labeled another commenter as a troll. Though I guess you would be in a better position to judge than almost anyone living under the bridge full time as you are.

            Perhaps you can stop being such an ass and take a trolling vacation or something. Do something useful. Failing that, eat a bullet.

            • Trai_Dep says:

              @henwy: a) But they’re not CEOs. There are 435 + 100 + 1 elected people at any given time, plus their staffs and families. Which, by the way, is also given to the predecessors and antecedents. And they hold as little as two years service, and their benefits are for a lifetime. It’s quite unlike anything seen in the private sector.
              And, it’s government-sponsored (and given in most cases) health care. We’re talking a very large number, for which the comparison to CEOs is completely inapt. Perhaps the President (but even then, CEOs don’t have lifetime health benefits – as soon as someone else employs them, the new insurance supersedes the old one).
              But CEOs don’t compare to Conservative pols decrying “Socialist” medicine and how horrible the benefits they gleefully accept for themselves are. Your comparison only works if, in the private sector, most employees, except for perhaps interns, got lifetime health insurance and pensions. Which would be the case for the latter under single-payer, in a sense.
              So, yeah, they’re hypocrites. And you’re wrong.

              b) I see quite a lot of heat in your post, but little light. You – uhh – you don’t kiss your mom with that mouth, do you, buttercup?

              • Trai_Dep says:

                @Trai_Dep: swap “latter” for “former”, 3rd ¬∂, above.

              • henwy says:


                There are positions in the private sector which provide the same exact thing. We’ve all heard of golden parachutes which provide executives with lifetime benefits even if they only worked at the company for a year or two.

                If one believes that an employer should pay for health care costs and the government is an employer, then the government should pay for the health care cost of its employees. It’s not socialized medicine just because it’s paid for with governmental money. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for you to understand such a simple point, but I’m guessing it has something to do with congenital retardation. Why don’t you actually educate yourself on what socialized health care actually is first. You might actually learn something instead of spouting ridiculous bullcrap and trolling all the live long day.

          • Antiks says:

            @Trai_Dep: Your comment couldn’t be more relevant. Frankly I think you were to nice to our lovely politicians.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @henwy: Here’s how it’s done.
          So, do you think that Conservative pols are less hypocritical given the situation, or more, than Progressive pols suggesting a smaller role for for-profit insurers in the upcoming health care debate?

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Instead of a lollipop, you get a free brick of heroin with every doctor’s visit.

  6. veg-o-matic says:

    Interest-free loans for national tourists.

    Usually, that means domestic tourists, i.e., those who are Mexican citizens. I don’t really want to register with FT to read the original article, but since in Mexico, that’s how they refer to domestic tourists, I’m 99.5% sure there are no loans on bank cards made to foreigners.

  7. nakedscience says:

    I have an aunt that goes to Mexico for all her dental work and has for years.

    • theblackdog says:

      @nakedscience: I’m guessing your aunt lives in New Mexico? It was a common thing at my college down for students and staff to drive to Mexico for their dental work and to get glasses/contacts.

      • nakedscience says:

        @theblackdog: No, Arizona! It’s about a 5 hour drive. My mom used to go a lot, too, but she has a problem with pills, so we try to keep her away:P

        • theblackdog says:

          @nakedscience: Ah well, one state off ;-)

          My dad lives in Phoenix and has considered just driving to Mexico as well for some of his healthcare.

    • bohemian says:

      @nakedscience: My dad had his bridge replaced in Mexico. They were visiting friends in TX over the winter. It cost about 10% of what it would have here. This was before things got sketchy as far as safety.

  8. Ratty says:

    It says right here: “It will not cover long-term maladies or illnesses contracted before arrival.”

    So… it’s effectively standard traveler insurance, as in if you get hurt there you will be treated. You do not go there for “free health care.”

  9. Waverly V Phillips says:

    Great! Now if I happen to catch some crossfire from drug lords battling over turf I can get stitched up in a Mexican Hospital. Uh.. I think I will pass.

    • Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

      @Waverly V Phillips:

      Watch out for militant Texans on your way into Mexico, too!

    • nakedscience says:

      @Waverly V Phillips: Yay hyperbole.

    • veg-o-matic says:

      @Waverly V Phillips: Hahahah. Oh, you’re right. Haha. Those Meksukans ARE horrible and dirty, violent people. The whole country is just worthless. Oh, hahaha! I thank you, sir.

      And give my regards to the Facebook.

      • AlxFherMana says:
      • subtlefrog says:

        @veg-o-matic: I wish I could heart you a second time.

      • TomCoughlin says:

        @veg-o-matic: Way to take a fairly harmless comment and completely twist and distort it into something hateful and ignorant, for no apparent reason other than to garner accolades from the echo chamber.

        Do you usually refer to “Mexicans” as “Meksukans” and think of them as dirty and violent? Because I see nothing in Waverly’s comment that you could get that from, I can only assume these are your thoughts on the matter.

        Drug-related violence in areas of Mexico is rampant. Poverty and corruption are epidemic. Case you haven’t heard, thousands of Mexicans flee the country every year to come here.

        Waverly’s point is a valid one, albeit sarcastic, and one that the post conveniently ignores. Sure, you get free (minus the cost of a trip to Mexico) health care, but you’re getting it in a borderline third world country. Kind of takes the sheen off the deal.

        • veg-o-matic says:

          @TomCoughlin: Holy overreaction.

          You approve Waverly’s sarcastic comment but express befuddlement at my own? I’m not sure you know what sarcasm is, but if I’m not allowed to use it anymore.. Well, then my life is empty because that’s just about all I do. Durnit.

          Anyway, his point isn’t valid, since “druglord turf wars” aren’t around every corner. He wildly overgeneralized the situation and applied it to the whole country. You are doing exactly the same thing, only this time with an undeserved air of superiority.

          I dont know about you, but my experience in Mexico goes beyond a few hours in the border towns or watching CNN’s latest hysterics.

          The obligatory “Mexico is dirty and violent and I’m going to die if I go there!!!!11!” posts are really old at this point.

          • TomCoughlin says:

            @veg-o-matic: My problem is – his comment was sarcastic, but made a point, one that I tried to lay out for you. Traveling to Mexico for free health care isn’t like taking a drive to Canada to pick up some discounted prescription meds, especially if you’re going for a more complicated/expensive procedure. You took his silly comment and turned it into some kind of hateful cliched stereotype instead of either just either ignoring him or providing a counterargument. Mexico has serious problems as a country, with crime, violence, drugs, corruption and with poverty. Just because they’re giving away health care doesn’t mean you should take it.

  10. edwardso says:

    While I wouldn’t go to Mexico just because of this announcement it would take out some of the worry i have about getting injured on a trip and being bankrupted by out of network medical bills

  11. WelcomeToMyWorld says:

    Women who are 9 months pregnant should go to Mexico to have their babies. Their kids will automatically become citizens of Mexico & get free health care for life!

    But seriously, we just got a news bulletin in Pittsburgh that 4 college kids went to Italy for a semester and came back with Swine Flu. So it’s not just the Third-World countries that should be avoided.

  12. Jessica Haas says:

    So, uh, how long is this going to last?

  13. tjjex says:

    hmmm… I’m Mexican but live in the US… would I be considered a tourist if I go?

    that would be great lol

  14. mantari says:

    Sad. I wanted to visit Mexico on my vacation next month to take advantage of the current situation. But now I need a passport to get there, so it just isn’t going to happen.

  15. H3ion says:

    Botox injections? Cosmetic surgery? Just what are they covering?

  16. balthisar says:

    Seriously… I wonder if my company knows this? I’m going to Mexico City for a business trip in a few weeks, and then in a couple of months, I’ll be there for 9 months or so. We’re all wondering what the health plan is going to be.

  17. veg-o-matic says:

    @subtlefrog: .. send.. money..?


  18. Waverly V Phillips says:

    Wow. I didn’t know we had so many Mexico Tourism Board employees on Consumerist. Well so I want be accused of being prejudiced towards Mexico I will also not be vacationing in West Baltimore, a favela in Rio, or Detroit.