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Healthcare and Education in Mexico

As an expat living 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. In preparation of your life in Mexico, read our Guide for info on housing, healthcare, and education.
Providing your children with an international education is within easy reach for expats in Mexico.

The Much-Debated Mexican Healthcare System

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

According to the Pan American Health Organization, however, Mexico’s healthcare system is relatively unequal. Despite an abundance of high-quality medical services and facilities, many people can only afford basic care. Although the government has begun spending more money on healthcare, it still has one of the lowest per capita expenditures of all OECD countries, outspending only Turkey and Estonia.

Mexico began its efforts to provide full healthcare coverage in 2004, with a program called Seguro Popular (Popular Health Insurance). This program was designed to make various preventative treatments affordable for the less fortunate. Since then, 50 million previously uninsured people have benefitted. The opinions on the Seguro Popular are divided; some believe that it ensures healthcare equality once and for all, whereas others still see a lack of quality in the services provided. Whether unequal or not, healthcare is now at least universal in Mexico.

As vaccinations and preventative drugs have been made widely available, malaria rates have been steadily dropping over the past decade, and tuberculosis mortality is also on a downward trend. Conditions have been improving , but both afflictions still present greater risks in Mexico than in most of the Western world.

Public Healthcare Coverage for Employees

In addition to the Seguro Popular, there is also a regular healthcare insurance coverage for employees, which is provided by the Institute of Social Security (Spanish only). Those covered pay a monthly premium calculated based on their wages, with both the state as well as their employer chipping in.

The Institute of Social Security also runs its own primary care units and hospitals. The quality of these facilities varies quite a bit: Not all are as well-equipped as many private hospitals, and the staff mostly speak Spanish.

Expensive, but High-Quality Private Healthcare

Residents in Mexico with private medical insurance include mostly foreigners and wealthy or middle-class Mexicans. Private insurance grants access to high-quality services and special treatments. Some Mexicans also pay for private care themselves to benefit from medical services of better quality than their public healthcare coverage provides.

Currently, the private health sector is still on the upswing. Especially in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, new hospitals are being built to provide specialized care and treatment to patients. Monterrey, in 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.

International or Local Schools?

The Mexican education system consists of three general levels: Basic education, upper secondary education, and tertiary education.

Aside from many public schools and universities, there are a number of international schools in Mexico, too. Among the most well-known institutions are the Edron Academy in Mexico City and Prepa Tec from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. American, German, French, and Japanese schools are available as well, with most of them located in the bigger cities; Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.

Basic Education with an Indigenous Flavor

Basic education in Mexico consists of preschool, primary school, and lower secondary education. Primary school is grades one through six. Upon completion of primary school, your children can move on to lower secondary school, grades seven through nine. In addition to 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.

The Different Options in 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. Finishing high school will grant access to tertiary education.

Most professional technical programs have a three-year curriculum as well. Here, students are prepared for certain technical professions and working life in general. If they take additional subjects, however, students may still be able to qualify for tertiary education.

Not Only University: Tertiary Education

In general, there are three types of tertiary education. First, higher technician studies allow students to train with technically skilled professionals within a specific field. Second, students can obtain a bachelor’s degree at technological institutes, universities, and teachers’ colleges in different fields of study. These programs take four years or longer to complete, depending on the school and the field. Finally, postgraduate studies are divided into specialization studies, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. For each of these, a bachelor’s degree is prerequisite.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Francois Bertrand

"The last InterNations event was just great: I had some very nice chats with fellow expats (even Canadians like me) in Mexico City. "

Barbara Melington

"With InterNations, we had the chance to find a good bi-lingual school for our children in Mexico. They are gonna grow up as true 'third-culture kids'! "

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