Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Obamacare: What Happens If You Live in Mexico?

There are people who think Obamacare is the end of the US as we know it and there are people who think it's the start of a new enlightenment era for the US. And there are those who are somewhere in the middle. However, regardless of what you think of Obamacare, it is now a reality and each individual must adapt accordingly. But what about the Americans who live in Mexico?

One of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Heatlh Care Act is the tax that people will have to pay if they don't choose to obtain minimum health care coverage and if they are considered as unable to have the resources to get said coverage. A person that doesn't make enough money to file a tax return is considered legally unable to pay for taxes and therefore exempt from the ACA. However, that is not the case with the vast majority of Americans who have chosen to live in Mexico.

However, the law specifies that residents in other countries are exempt from the ACA. Obviously, they have to prove that they live in another country. They can do so in one of two ways.

a) To have lived in another country for at least one full year, with no immediate plans to return to the US.

b) To have income from a foreign source and to live at least 330 days out of the US every year.

It doesn't matter what your status abroad is. Once you pass either of these two tests, you are considered a resident in a foreign country and are except from both extra coverage or taxes.

On the other hand, if you are living in another country and do not pass any of these tests, you are not exempt from the ACA and must get at least basic coverage.

Special case: Americans under a US Expatriate Health Plan. Americans who live in Mexico under a US expatriate health plan are considered exempt from the ACA in certain ways. First of all, the exemption is valid until the end of 2015, at which point the government will decide what to do about them (although I suspect it will just extend the exemption, since it would be too difficult to do the tracking and logistics). Also, your plan must cover you at least for 6 months of the plan year. Lastly, you won't get any benefits granted by the ACA, such as coverage for dependents until they are 26 years old, guaranteed maternity coverage, or free preventive care).

If you would like to read more about how Americans who live in the US and have coverage under the ACA are still going to Mexico for health care, go here.


Robert Ervin is a freelancer who writes about healthcare, medical tourism, and living in Mexico.

If you're considering traveling to Mexico for healthcare or retiring in Mexico, you may want to get yourself a copy of The English's Speaker's Guide to Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico, in order to find a good doctor or hospital in the main towns and cities of Mexico, or The English Speaker's Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, to understand how the Mexican healthcare system works. 

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