Tag Archives: IMSS

It’s Complicated……………………..Part 6 and That’s It For Another Year

It’s Complicated……………………..Part 6 and That’s It For Another Year

A week ago I went to the IMSS office for a renewal application. My insurance isn’t due until November 1, but I will be out of the country at that time and I want to be sure that my healthcare is in place before I leave this weekend.

My Spanish is well beyond survival although I am by no means fluent. The only real problems I encounter regarding communication are with government agencies here. No-one speaks English in these offices and iTranslate doesn’t quite cut it.

So last week I went to the office on Ave Del Mar. When I had changed my address at the clinic assigned to me, they informed me that renewals have to be done at this office instead. So I am now familiar with both IMSS locations here in Mazatlan.

At the registration desk I explain my situation to the receptionist. And I do this in perfect Spanish thanks to my friend Etziel, a native Mexican. The receptionist hands me a paper outlining all the documents that I require. I carefully repeat to her that I am renewing and am not new to the system. I show her my booklet and my documentation proving that I am already in the system. She is firm. I require all these documents and photos as well. Completely frustrated and uttering some of my favorite choice words under my breath, although I’m sure the receptionist understood those English words, I leave the building.

Etziel and I meet at Starbucks, and he offers to come with me to IMSS to straighten this out. No way do I require all the documents listed on that paper! Although I do feel like I have an albatross hanging around my neck, I am somewhat reassured knowing that Etziel is coming with me next time.

And this morning was next time.We arrive at the IMSS office and he tells the receptionist the same thing I told her last week. Of course he isn’t a gringa and he speaks Spanish much more fluently than I can ever hope to. This time we get a number. We sit down and our number is called after about 20 minutes. We show her the change of address document I had done at the clinic and the copy of my original registration from Guadalajara last year. And the first thing she does is change my address on the computer. I’m dumbfounded! It took 2-1/2 hours to change my address at my clinic. But apparently my clinic’s computer and the business office’s computer aren’t on speaking terms. More photocopies and forms to sign and we are told to get a second number to see the cashier.

Off we go to the cashier and wait our turn. She then prints more documents that we need to present at the bank in order to pay the fees. But not just any bank! Only certain banks are authorized to receive payments. Etziel had his car and a short drive later found us at a Banamex. The first stop is at the ATM outside the bank. We then go inside the bank and take a number and wait our turn. This was actually rather pleasant as the bank was air-conditioned.

A few minutes later we’re back in the car and we find a store that does photocopies. Yes, IMSS wants photocopies of a utility bill and the proof of bank payment. Mexicans love their paperwork! I have more documents on file here in Mexico in the past five years than I had in Canada in my entire life!!!!

We arrive back at IMSS and return to the woman that had begun the process for us earlier. More documents and then an official stamp! My insurance has been renewed and I will never have to see this office again for another year. (Yes, it’s an annual renewal.) And it only took two hours! On the plus side it provides many Mexicans with employment. And, as Martha used to say, that is a good thing.

It’s Complicated……………Part 5

It’s Complicated……………Part 5

Here we go again! If you haven’t read the first four posts of It’s Complicated, the Coles Notes version is that it describes the process I went through in order to obtain government health insurance here in Mexico. Back in Guadalajara, I was privileged to have Pedro Sanchez Bello among my students. Pedro is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee replacements. And yours truly had just had two of these procedures in Canada before returning to Mexico. Needless to say, there was an immediate connection.

When I told Pedro about the problems I was having obtaining social security, he insisted on accompanying me to the IMSS office to assist me. I was totally blown away by this generous offer, especially when it evolved into a two day adventure. This incredible man took two full days off of work to help me, and even came to the bank with me to pay the fees. I am truly blessed to have a friend like this in my life.

But I no longer live in Guadalajara. I have now moved to Mazatlan. This morning I went to the administration offices of IMSS on the malecon. I thought it would be a simple procedure of this is my old address and this is my new address! Que oso! This is Mexico.

I breathed a sigh of relief when my name showed up on the computer. I presented my utility bill with my new address. Luckily one of the staff spoke English and was able to explain everything to me. I was informed that I had to attend a different clinic due to the colonia I lived in. If I wanted to attend the clinic linked with the administration offices, I had to borrow a utility bill from someone who lives in this area. Otherwise I would have to go to the other clinic.

Ok, so I need to go to the other location. Not a problem. Easily doable on another day. But the staff went on to explain that I would be best advised to borrow a utility bill and attend this clinic. Their reasoning was that fewer people come to this clinic so the care is better.

Fascinating! Basically I want IMSS in place in case of an emergency. And I am still covered for that even though I haven’t changed my address.

Now I have a new dilemma. Do I borrow a utility bill and attend the clinic on the malecon? Or do I register at the other clinic? Decisions, decisions………….  


I thanked the staff for the their assistance and walked across the street to the beach. Ah, the comfort of the music of the waves and the feel of the hot sand beneath my feet.




I have faced a few challenges this past year. And four of them have something in common. They all begin with the letter “I”.

First came INM. Mounds of paperwork and unnecessary photocopies, redundant photos and fingerprints, and several visits to Migracion here in Guadalajara as well as a visit to the Mexican Consulate in McAllen, Texas.

Consulado Mexicano McAllen

Several months later, I was the proud recipient of a residente temporal tarjeta. But that was only the beginning!

Next it was time to apply for health insurance. What? That long complicated number on the tarjeta is not my CURP number? I need another number? Of course! More photocopies and photos! And then I magically receive this number on the internet days later.

On to IMSS. CURP number, documents translated from English into Spanish, photocopies, photos, malfunctioning computers in government offices…….. I think that about covers it. 


If you want to read more about these experiences, check some of my past blog posts. The “It’s Complicated” series address the health insurance issue. “Finally” deals with the visa process.

In Mexico you can apply for an INAPAM card when you reach the age of sixty. This card entitles you to a variety of discounts, the main one being transportation for me. And they even gave me a new name on this card! And it has a lovely (not) photo of me as well as a fingerprint. By the way Kyle, your name and phone number appear on this card as an emergency contact. Please don’t change your number. I don’t want to go through this ordeal again either anytime soon. Too much paperwork and translated documentation. Oh, and thank you for being my number one son!

The fourth hurdle is the IRS in the USA. I have published two books with an American company. But I am a Canadian, a foreign author. Changes in legislation necessitate that I apply for a tax number or my publisher will withhold a ridiculously high percentage of royalties. A nuisance, but no problem. The form is completed and then submitted.

Weeks later I receive a letter informing me that they require additional information confirming my identity as a Canadian citizen. The two pieces of identification must contain photos. And they request original documents. No photocopies for this country. And the documents are my passport and my driver’s license.

So here I am living in Guadalajara and they expect me to forward these original documents to them. Anyone who lives in Mexico will clearly understand how ludicrous an idea this is!

The letter also provided a phone number in the contact info. But it’s Friday! Apparently the weekend starts early in Austin, Texas. Oh well, there’s always Monday………..


It’s Complicated………………Part 4…………..Finally!


I arrive at IMMS Clinic 39 at 6:50 am. Hundreds of people mill about waiting for the doors to open. Nearby vendors are selling atole, pan and tamales. But that will have to wait. I am fasting for this blood test.


The doors open and I follow the crowd to the stairs. This time I don’t even attempt to check the elevator to see if it’s working. Miraculously there are only two people ahead of me at the lab. The clerk asks for my card. I tell her that I don’t have a card yet. That will come after the blood test. She shrugs her shoulders, takes my requisition and motions me over to a woman at a table with a multitude of tiny test tubes for urine samples. I’m prepared for this one. Pedro gave me the vocabulary and I purchased a “real” specimen container at the pharmacy, not like the test tube pictured below.


“What? You want me to transfer my sample to this tiny test tube and bring it back to you?” I ask incredulously. So off I go to the bathroom to perform this ridiculous task. When I return to the table, she takes the test tube from me and discards the remainder of the sample I had brought in. She then points to Puerta 2 where I need to go for the blood test. I walk into a room with about a half a dozen desks with technicians. I am taken immediately and Winnipeg technicians can learn from these Mexicans. I didn’t feel the needle go in at all, and there is not even a hint of a bruise.

Now it is time to get my card. Up the stairs I go to Ventanilla 3. What? It doesn’t open until 8 am? OK. I head downstairs to the street and get an atole and a pan. I then trudge back up the two flights of stairs. At 7:55 staff arrive and I am the first at the window. Everyone else in the waiting area flocked to Ventanillas 2 and 4.

Oh, we don’t need any photocopies. My passport, an original utility bill, my social security number and a photo will suffice. I am then given an identification paper with my photo stapled to it. I ask her if she needs to stamp the document that Oscar gave me at the other IMSS administration building. She says it isn’t necessary. Oh oh! Oscar will not be happy. He is expecting me to come back with a stamped document. And here at the clinic they tell me I don’t need to go back to see Oscar. Who to believe?????

So what do I do next? How do I find out the results of the lab work? Back I go to the director’s office. So apparently I need to go to Desk 10 which is only one more flight upstairs.  And my identification paper is now stapled into a nifty little booklet with a horrendous amount of new Spanish vocabulary for me to master. After much discussion, I am given an appointment to come in to see a doctor on December 19th.

I guess if anything is terribly wrong I will be contacted before that. After all, they have my phone number. Yikes! I better head to Oxxo to put some credits on it! And I had better find that damn Blackberry! I usually use my iPhone for What’s App or Facebook that work off of WiFi. Maybe it’s time to ditch the Blackberry and get that iPhone unlocked…………..