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Mexico Offers Health Insurance to Migrants in the United States

Migrant health insurance

Mexican migrants working in the United States may soon have their own affordable health insurance program. According to Mexico’s Health Department, it is launching a pilot program designed to encourage migrants who work in the states to sign up for the Mexican government’s Seguro Popular health insurance plan.

Seguro Popular was instituted in Mexico in 2003 as a nationwide effort to provide health insurance for the poor. According to results of a study by researchers at Harvard University, in collaboration with researchers in Mexico, the popular health insurance program has been successful in reducing high health care costs for the country’s poor households.

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This newest effort by Mexico’s Health Department is an attempt to provide health insurance coverage for all Mexicans by the year 2012, according to a statement made by the department. The effort will begin Colorado and be offered in other states over time. Currently there are approximately 12 million Mexicans living in the United States.

Seguro Popular was established to provide health care coverage to 50 million Mexicans who cannot otherwise afford health insurance. Participation in the program is voluntary, is free to the poor, and provides them with access to health clinics, regular and preventive medical care, drugs, and money to pay for all of these services. The program’s main goal is to reduce catastrophic health expenses, defined as those that exceed 33 percent of a household’s yearly disposable income.

The Harvard study notes that Mexico’s health insurance program covers approximately the same number of people as are currently uninsured in the United States. According to Gary King, lead author of the Harvard study and director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard, Seguro Popular may offer some insights for other countries on how to implement a health insurance program for the poor.

Associated Press, Sept. 4, 2009
Harvard Gazette, April 9, 2009
King G et al. Lancet 2009 Apr 25; 373(9673): 1447-54