Health Care System Complementarity

Extending U.S. Medicare to Mexico: Why It’s Important to Consider and What Can Be Done

by Editors

Americans retiring to foreign countries and consequently reducing their healthcare options is a common theme in binational health literature. This paper explores the idea of extending U.S. Medicare benefits to Mexico in order to offset health care costs that retired Americans acquire abroad. In the context of the current Medicare program and the Mexican healthcare system, the authors discuss eligibility requirements, numbers of potential beneficiaries, and explain why it is important to consider the perspectives of the U.S. and Mexican governments when evaluating Medicare expansion. They offer four Medicare reform proposals, providing an evaluation of each on their feasibility, along with the logical next steps. The proposals include: permitting the reimbursement of Mexican care providers, developing a program to cover services abroad, expanding Medicare advantage, and expanding Medigap insurance, which is generally considered the most practical.

La jubilación de estadounidenses en países extranjeros, y por consiguiente la reducción de sus opciones de cuidado de salud, es un tema común en la literatura médica binacional. Este articulo explora la idea de extender los beneficios de Medicare EE.UU. a México, con el objetivo de contrarrestar los costos de servicios médicos que los  estadounidenses jubilados adquieren en el extranjero. Dentro del contexto del actual programa de Medicare y del sistema de salud mexicano, los autores discuten los requisitos de elegibilidad, la cantidad de posibles beneficiarios, y explican por qué es importante considerar la perspectiva de los gobiernos mexicano y estadounidense al evaluar la expansión del programa Medicare. Presentan cuatro propuestas de reforma, proveyendo una evaluación de la factibilidad de éstas junto con los pasos lógicos para lograrlas. Las propuestas incluyen: permitir el reembolso de proveedores de salud mexicanos; el desarrollo de un programa que cubra los servicios en el extranjero; expandir el programa Medicare advantage; y extender el seguro Medigap – opción que es generalmente considerada más práctica.

Read this report by the RAND Corporation in its entirety: Extending U.S. Medicare to Mexico: Why It’s Important to Consider and What Can Be Done.


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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by Editors
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