Mexico’s health system is a combination of private and public institutions. Most citizens are covered under the Mexican National Social Security Program (IMSS), an umbrella government entity funded by employer and employee contributions each month, that offers access to basic medical services including preventive visits, prescriptions, diagnostic testing as well as dental and eye care. Its offerings can also be supplemented by other private products or programs targeted specifically towards people working outside formal economies as well as by some government-backed non-government organizations.
Mexico has seen significant progress with their healthcare system over the past decade. Since 2004, when new legislation mandated formal sector workers be enrolled in IMSS, over 52.6 million previously uninsured Mexicans had joined its rolls – this represents an amazing accomplishment considering Mexico is home to 100 million people, many living rural areas.
Mexico has made substantial investments in training its medical professionals and expanding telemedicine services, which has significantly helped bridge the gap between urban and rural areas, which had long been an obstacle to patient accessing care. Furthermore, COFEPRIS, a federal agency for regulatory purposes has worked towards simplifying regulatory procedures related to medical devices and health-related products; this has reduced costs for patients while giving Mexico’s medical industry an international competitive advantage.
Mexico has made great strides toward universal health coverage through encouraging communities to take charge of improving their own health, leading to greater demand for basic services and greater willingness to seek assistance when needed. Mexico serves as an example for other countries when it comes to encouraging community involvement and empowerment as an approach for universal healthcare coverage.
Although Mexico has made significant strides forward, more work remains to close the gaps between rich and poor Mexicans. To do this, additional investment must be made in primary healthcare systems including creating more community clinics and expanding telemedicine services; it will also require reconsidering how medical education is organized as well as an emphasis on developing skills which will meet Mexico’s future needs in an ever more globalizing world.
But Mexico’s health system stands as a reminder of what can be accomplished when low and middle income nations focus on universal healthcare coverage for their own people and as an inspiration for global equity. Dean Frenk is an author with several books published about Latin America. He holds a Ph.D in political science from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies where he currently specializes in political economy of development studies as well as global health policy studies.