Mexico City is the Federal District for the country’s 31 states. Health care is either public or run by private companies and physicians. Mexican citizens pay Social Security taxes, and one of the benefits is medical care. In Mexico, there are medicinal clinics in robust cities. However, there is inequity in the health care system because it is available only to people who can pay for it.
The Mexican Social Security tax covers pensions and health care for employees and their dependents. Based on a 2011 report, “less than half of the working population is permanently enrolled” in the Social Security system. As a result, there is a tremendous quantity of people who are uninsured.
Almost half of the Mexican populace live in poverty. In rural villages (also called Colonials), there is a higher mortality rate, especially among the poorest population. Often these small communities are inland from the fancy Americanized settlements. There are hospitals and clinics, but the cost is prohibitive for the natives. Some American residents in Beachfront communities set up small clinics that are staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses. These volunteers are often retired, and the clinics are funded by the volunteers and their neighbors.
In a little Colonial south of Rosarito Beach, in Baja, California, the American women have fundraisers to provide food, clothing, shoes, and intermediary medical care. This care is limited and they often stabilize a patient only long enough to transport them to the closest hospital. Most of the adults work for the Americans as housekeepers, handymen, and builders. Yet, the poverty rate is high and medical care is lacking. Mexico has medicinal clinics in robust cities. However, those living outside of the towns often do not have access.
Unfortunately, living in a large city does not guarantee accessible medical care either. The Health Affairs organization reports that the structure of the Mexican health care system creates “critical impediments to reducing health inequity.” The goal of a health care program is to provide quality care. Mexico’s system does not offer quality services to its economically disadvantaged people and needs to reevaluate the policies in place.
Private hospitals make up about two-thirds of the 4,466 hospitals in Mexico. Approximately, 10 percent of Mexican citizens have private insurance and the typical out-of-pocket costs are over 52 percent.
Fortunately, there are alternatives and the Mexican Red Cross, also known as the Cruz Roja Mexicana works around the clock every day of the year. It operates just like the American and Canadian Red Cross, rendering assistance during disasters. The Cruz Roja Mexicana also “acts as an Emergency Medical Service.” By Mexican law, it is the only organization “allowed to give first aid to automobile accident victims or someone injured “in the commission of a crime.”
The Cruz Roja Mexicana was established as a branch of the army in 1910, but it was recognized by the International Red Cross in 1923, when it received its charter. Once it was a chartered member of the Red Cross, the army affiliation was severed. When severed, the military quit providing emergency “day-to-day” medical assistance. The Mexican Red Cross became the designated provider, and as a chartered Red Cross member, it operates on a donation basis rather than funding from the government.
Other volunteer groups help fill in the gap by providing medical care. One group is Doctors Without Borders and the Medical Coordinator in Mexico is Emiliana Lucero. In an interview by PVAngels, Lucero discusses the “emergency medical organization” called Medecinas San Frontieres or Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The interviewer asked why the MSF is working in Mexico. Lucero’s response was, “Regardless of the resources Mexico has as a country,” the people, who are affected by violence, have difficulty accessing health care.
MFS is in Mexico to address medical and humanitarian needs of the population who can not afford the medical health care system in place. Technically, medical care is free for those without insurance, but the hospitals still charge co-payments. Therefore, many people who should be able to get medical care really cannot afford it. Even though Mexico has medicinal clinics in robust cities, only the insured and wealthy have access.
By Cathy Milne
Edited By Leigh Haugh
Health Affairs–Addressing Inequity in Health and Health Care in Mexico
PVAngels–Interview With Emiliana Lucero, Doctors Without Borders Medical Coordinator in Mexico
Poverty Trap–Mexico’s Poverty Rate: Half of Country’s Population Lives in Poverty
Featured and Top Article Photo Courtesy of David Cohen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Photo Courtesy of maxamillian_schaffhausen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License