Health Care System Complementarity

Accessing Health Care Abroad

by Editors

As more Americans retire to Mexico, the inability for Medicare benefits to be paid to Mexican health services becomes a burden for Americans abroad and those living in the border region. At the same time, uninsured Mexican immigrants in the U.S. face the specter of not having suitable healthcare coverage.

Health Care and Americans Retiring in Mexico

The following publication is an overview of healthcare options for American retirees living abroad, a growing trend especially in Mexico. The basis of the authors’ research is the fact that Medicare does not cover expenditures outside of the United States. The researchers used data gathered by the International Community Foundation from over 800 retirees over the age of 50 and living in the coastal areas of Mexico.  The valuable statistical information provided includes demographics, preferences, inclinations and sense of civic responsibility, related to health services. With this data, the authors explore trends in Americans’ use of Mexican healthcare services. Given the retirees’ increasing preference for Mexican health services, the authors conclude that the prospect of broadening Medicare coverage to include Mexico would alleviate tax burdens on Americans, provide more options for those living in the border regions, and allow retirees to use Medicare benefits abroad.

Esta publicación es un resumen de las opciones para cuidado de salud que tienen los estadounidenses retirados que viven en el exterior, una tendencia creciente especialmente en México. La base de la investigación de los autores es el hecho de que Medicare no cubre gastos fuera de los Estados Unidos. Los investigadores usaron data recopilada por la International Community Foundation, de hasta 800 retirados mayores de 50 años que viven en costas mexicanas. Esta valiosa información estadística proveída incluye demografía, preferencias, inclinaciones y sentido de responsabilidad cívica relacionados con servicios de salud. Con esta información, los autores exploran las tendencias en el uso de servicios de cuidado de salud de los estadounidenses. Dada la creciente preferencia de los retirados por servicios de salud mexicanos, los autores concluyen que el prospecto de ampliar la cobertura de Medicare en México disminuiría la carga de impuestos de los estadounidenses, proveería más opciones para aquellos viviendo en las regiones fronterizas, y permitiría a los retirados utilizar sus beneficios de Medicare en el exterior.

Read this report in its entirety: Health Care and Americans Retiring in Mexico


United States-Mexico Cross-Border Health Insurance Initiatives: Salud Migrante and Medicare in Mexico

Though efforts to expand healthcare coverage will certainly reduce the number of uninsured Mexican-Americans, it will fail to address issues regarding a lack of coverage for undocumented workers in the U.S., lower income, first generation Mexican immigrants, and retired Americans who live abroad. The following publication evaluates both Salud Migrante and Medicare in Mexico, two proposals designed to address these very issues. It discusses the application of each proposal within the context of American healthcare reform, e.g. identifying political, legal, and regulatory hurdles. It also explores potential benefits of the proposals’ successful implementation, such providing insurance for uninsured Mexican immigrants and their eventual integration into American healthcare system (Salud Migrante) as well as Medicare coverage expansion to include the needs of retirees living in Mexico.

Aunque los esfuerzos por expandir la cobertura de seguro médico ciertamente reducirían el número de mexicanos-americanos sin seguro, fallarían en tratar el tema de la falta de cobertura de los trabajadores indocumentados en los Estados Unidos, aquellos de bajos ingresos, inmigrantes mexicanos de primera generación, y estadounidenses retirados que viven en el exterior. La siguiente publicación evalúa tanto Salud Migrante como Medicare en México, dos propuestas diseñadas para tratar estos mismos problemas. Discute la aplicación de ambas propuestas en el contexto de la reforma de salud en los Estados Unidos; esto implica identificar barreras políticas, legales y regulatorias. También explora los potenciales beneficios de la implementación exitosa de las propuestas, que implicaría proveer cobertura de seguro médico para aquellos inmigrantes mexicanos que no lo poseen y su eventual integración al sistema de salud estadounidense (Salud Migrante), así como la expansión de la cobertura de Medicare para cubrir las necesidades de los retirados viviendo en México.

Read this publication in its entirety: United States-Mexico Cross-Border Health Insurance Initiatives: Salud Migrante and Medicare in Mexico


The U.S.-Mexico Network’s Imagining 2024 project is designed to provide readers a quick overview of key issues in US-Mexico relations – the background of the issue, its current state, where we ought to be by 2024, and how to get there.


Each short essay is coupled with suggested background readings for those interested in a more detailed understanding of the issue at hand.  And as an electronic publication, both the essays and their associated resource pages are updated as needed to keep the information and analysis fresh.

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