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A patient with COVID-19 is carried in a stretcher inside Juarez Hospital, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Mexico City, Mexico April 29, 2020. Photo: Carlos Jasso/Reuters.
A patient with COVID-19 is carried in a stretcher inside Juarez Hospital, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Mexico City, Mexico April 29, 2020. Photo: Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

State-run hospitals in Mexico City start accepting COVID-19 patients without health insurance

The decision from the Mexican Social Security Institute comes a week after many of the country’s private providers said they’ve run out of space.

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While Mexico’s Deputy Health Minister, Hugo López-Gattel says there’s “light at the end of the tunnel” of Mexico’s COVID-19 experience in places like Cancún and Quintana Roo, Mexico City is one of the epicenters of the virus.

The situation there is similar to ones found in other hard-hit parts of the world like Italy, Spain and the U.S. A week ago, Bloomberg reported ABC Medical Center, one of the country’s top private centers, couldn’t accept anymore COVID-19 patients because it had run out of ventilators.

It joined other private health centers like Hospital Español and Medica Sur that have either run out of supplies or ample space for COVID-19 patients.

In Mexico, people either opt for being covered by the country’s public healthcare system through the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) or pay for private health insurance. Both systems operate their own hospitals that don’t accept the other’s health insurance.

Part of the COVID-19 patient crush at private institutions comes from an agreement made between the Mexican government and its private healthcare providers, where some private centers would accept COVID-19 patients with healthcare plans through IMSS.

Mexico’s total COVID-19 count is approaching 25,000 with more than 5,500 in Mexico City as of Saturday, May 2. 

At first glance, the number doesn’t seem high for a health infrastructure covering a city of close to 9 million, but a third of the city’s cases have resulted in hospitalizations according to data from the country’s health ministry.

With portions of the private sector struggling to keep up, the IMSS announced on May 2, that it would accept patients without insurance in Mexico City. 

Collectively, hospitals under IMSS in the city were operating at 68% capacity on the day of the announcement, as reported by Mexico News Daily.

A week ago, on April 28, 12 of the 56 total public hospitals in the city were full.

Outside of Mexico City, the next highest infection counts are in the states of México, Baja California and Tabasco.

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