With the initiation of a new program, Mexico City is acting proactively in regard to the recent H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic. The new program, called the Tourist Assistance Card, offers free health insurance to visitors through December. Tourists who book stays at any of the city’s 470 hotels are eligible for free coverage for emergency medical care, hospital stays, prescription drugs and ambulance services.
Last spring, Mexico City had the country’s most reported cases of swine flu. Travel essentially grounded to a halt, which made a bad situation worse, since the economic recession had already had its negative effect on travel to the capital.
The insurance program is run by the Ministry of Tourism of Mexico City through a private insurer, MAPFRE. According to Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico City’s mayor, this is the first time a large city has offered such a service. There is no cap on the amount that is insured, so travelers can receive all the emergency services they might need.
The tourism office’s program subsidizes the following services for national and international guests: medical assistance in case of disease or accident, ambulance in case of an accident, hospital accommodation, prescription of drugs, emergency dental care, transportation home in case of illness, hotel accommodation for time of recovery, accompaniment of minors and home transportation in case of death.
The Tourist Assistance Card goes beyond health issues to provide help to travelers who need legal assistance in case of robbery or loss of documents or belongings, forwarding of forgotten belongings, assistance in case of luggage loss and help in case of a flight delay or cancelation.
Explanatory pamphlets will be available at the Mexico City International Airport, and call centers are open 24 hours a day with staff speaking Spanish, English, French, German and Portuguese. A deductible will apply for some services.