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Francois Bertrand

Living in Mexico, from Canada

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Living in Mexico, from USA

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Mexico at a Glance

Healthcare and Education in Mexico

As an expat in Mexico, you’ll experience what French poet André Breton called the surrealist country par excellence, where modern art and culture coexist with breathtaking scenery and Aztec pyramids. To prepare for your time in Mexico, read our guide for info on housing, healthcare, and education.

Healthcare System

Mexico’s healthcare system includes small private systems as well as big universal health insurance programs. The result is a mixture of private, public and employer-funded healthcare schemes. Aside from public insurance coverage and the private healthcare sector, there is a separate insurance scheme for state employees and members of the military.

The Pan American Health Organization criticizes Mexico’s healthcare system as unequal. Despite an abundance of high quality medical services and facilities, many people can only afford basic care. Although the government has begun to spend more money on healthcare, it still has one of the lowest per capita expenditures of all OECD countries.

Mexico began its efforts to provide full healthcare coverage in 2003. Since then, 50 million people who used to be uninsured have benefitted from a program called Seguro Popular (Popular Health Insurance). This program helps people to reduce the costs of healthcare and receive better services.

Families pay a premium based on their income to join this program. They then have to make regular preventative visits at clinics. The program has not only helped to lower health care costs. By making vaccinations and preventative drugs widely available, malaria rates have dropped by 60% while tuberculosis mortality was reduced by 30%.

Public Health Sector

About 50 million of all Mexicans contribute to a public insurance scheme together with their employer and the government. Employees pay a monthly premium, which is calculated based on their wages. This public scheme is provided by the Institute of Social Security.

The Institute of Social Security also runs its own primary care units and hospitals. The quality of these facilities varies strongly. They may not be as well equipped as many private hospitals and the staff mostly speak Spanish.

Private Healthcare

Mexican residents with private medical insurance include mostly foreigners and wealthy or middle-class Mexicans. They have access to high quality services and special treatments. Some Mexicans also pay private care out of their own pocket to benefit from better quality medical services than their public healthcare coverage provides.

Currently, the private health sector is experiencing a veritable boom. Especially in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, new hospitals are being built to provide specialized care to private patients. Monterrey, with its relatively close proximity to the US border, has become the center of medical tourism. Here, US citizens try to escape the higher medical costs and more expensive treatments in their home country.


The Mexican education system has three levels:

Aside from many public schools and universities, you can also choose an international school for your children, such as the Edron Academy or Prepa Tec from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. American, German, French or Japanese Schools are available as well. However, most of these are located in bigger cities such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, or Monterrey.

Basic Education

Basic education consists of preschool, primary school and lower secondary education. Primary school is taught in six grades, for children aged 6 to 15. Your children have to complete primary school successfully to move on to lower secondary school, which contains three grades. On top of standard primary school subjects, the curriculum also allows for classes dealing with the linguistic and cultural background of Mexico’s indigenous groups and scattered rural population.

Upper Secondary Education

There are two types of upper secondary education in Mexico, high school and professional technical education. High school usually consists of a three-year program, but it can also take two or four years, depending on the school your children attend. Finishing high school successfully will let them move on to tertiary education.

Professional technical education has a three-year curriculum. However, as with high school, some programs take between two and five years. Here, students are prepared for certain technical professions and working life in general. By taking additional subjects and having these accredited, they may, however, still qualify for tertiary education.

Tertiary Education

In general, there are three types of tertiary education:

Becoming a higher technician enables students to train with technically skilled professionals and then work in a specific field. They have to complete a two-year program, which falls slightly short of the level of a bachelor’s degree.

Students can acquire a bachelor’s degree at technological institutes, universities and teacher’s colleges in different fields of study. The program takes four years or longer to complete, depending on the school and the degree course they choose. Postgraduate studies are divided into specialization studies, master’s degree and doctoral degrees.  You require a bachelor’s degree to go for this educational option.

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