TREND: A sizeable share of immigrants in Mexico do not have access to health insurance at a critical moment for public health in the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to recent data from the 2020 Mexican Census, 46 percent of the 1.2 million immigrants residing in Mexico did not have access to health insurance. By contrast, 26 percent of the 124.3 million native-born Mexicans lacked health insurance. Here are some further key points about immigrants’ access to health care in Mexico:
•Among the 54 percent of immigrants who did have health insurance, nearly one quarter (23 percent) were affiliated with the Mexican Social Security Institute system known as IMSS, which is funded by the federal government and the affiliate or sponsored by employers. Another 12 percent were part of the former Seguro Popular, which President López Obrador replaced with the Institute of Health for Welfare known as INSABI and aims to provide universal basic healthcare coverage. The remaining 12 percent of immigrants possessed private insurance.
•Approximately 271,000 of the 584,000 immigrant children in Mexico did not have health insurance in 2020, and 90 percent of uninsured immigrant children were born in the United States. Though U.S.-born children had slightly higher uninsured rates than children from other countries, this trend is partially explained by the large share that U.S.-born children account for in the total immigrant population.
•Uninsured rates between men and women in Mexico are relatively similar within the native-born Mexican population and the immigrant population. However, differences in the rates across nativity are notable: the uninsured rate for immigrant men was 46 percent compared to 28 percent among native-born Mexican men; among women the rates were 45 percent versus 25 percent, respectively.
•Access to insurance for immigrants who identify as Afro-descendants is nearly the same as for other immigrants.About 42,000 (4 percent) of immigrants in Mexico identify as Afro- descendants, and 47 percent of them lack health insurance. That is compared to 46 percent among the broader immigrant population.
TAKEAWAY: Mexico’s federal law, through article four of the national Constitution, establishes that every individual in the country has the right to health protection. However, gaps in health care coverage raise serious questions on the fulfillment of this legal provision, especially for vulnerable immigrant groups, many of them with direct ties to Mexican citizens. As Mexico seeks to develop a comprehensive integration policy for migrants, increasing the rate of healthcare coverage for immigrants should be a priority item for policymakers at the federal, state and local level.
* Spotlight by Ariel Ruiz, Policy Analyst & Andrea Tanco, Associate Policy Analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI). MPI seeks to improve immigration and integration policies through authoritative research and analysis, opportunities for learning and dialogue, and the development of new ideas to address complex policy questions. Twitter: @migrationpolicy