Health Care Without Borders

In Mexico, they have a socialized healthcare system, it is known as IMSS. At IMSS people wait in a large, open room to get screened before seeing a doctor. But in many cases, after a long wait, they may not get the treatment that is needed. This is because IMSS is running out of money. People who have serious illnesses might get superficial treatments, while a person with a simple illness, like a sprained ankle, can get as much as a 7 day incapacity.

An incapacity is the official declaration from IMSS that you have been treated and are excused from work until the end of your incapacity. In one case of a sprained ankle, the incapacity was for 7 days. For seven days, a 20 year old man was not allowed to work, and only recieved 60% of his salary during the incapcity. The reason he was given the incapacity, and a seriously ill person was not, is simple. It costs IMSS nearly nothing to treat the man with the sprained ankle.

All corporations in Mexico pay taxes to IMSS, they are approximately 10% of payroll. But, because the care given by IMSS is so poor, most large corporations pay for a private major medical insurance for their employees in addition.

Amost all middle class citizens have their babies in private hospitals with private doctors, and go to private doctors when they are ill. If you are pregnant, and middle class, you will still need to go to IMSS which is required by law to grant a 90 day leave of absence from work. The leave is taken 45 days before the birth, and 45 days after. Even if you are able or willing to work, you cannot.

Medications are not supplied by IMSS, although they are prescribed. Blook is not provided, and must be purchased from the local blood bank.

It is not uncommon for employees to collect money from co-workers to help fund medical expenses, especially for lower income workers.

Furthermore, a person must be employeed to receive benefits from IMSS. A special program is available for unemployed people, but at a lower benefit level.

Many times ill employees need to miss work to go to IMSS for treatment, but they are turned away without an incapacity, even for the day they spent attempting to get treatment. In addition there is a transportation expense for the employee, as well as lost income for missing work. They may also have the absence counted as an unjustified absence on their attendance record. If the illness does not go away and the absenses mount, the employee may face disciplinary action by the employer. These types of problems have forced employers to reqrite their attendance policies to be more lenient in order to avoid having to discipline, or worse, terminate, an otherwise good employees.

While is it not completely clear what Congress in the US is proposing, there do appear to be many elements that are similar to IMSS. Is this what we want in the US healthcare system?

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in March 2010 issue of Freedom Today!. Their website is