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Mexico City offers tourists free health insurance

August 17, 2009 |  9:19 am
All nonessential services were closed in Mexico City Friday

Officials in Mexico City hope to lure skittish tourists with unusual bait: free health insurance. Under a new program, tourists who stay in participating hotels in the city are eligible for free coverage for emergency medical care, hospital stays, prescription drugs and ambulance services.

The initiative, called the "Tourist Assistance Card," grew out of Mexico's recent H1N1 flu crisis, which sent tourism plunging nationwide as would-be travelers steered clear. In Mexico City, which had the country's highest number of reported flu cases, a near-complete shutdown hammered hotels and restaurants, compounding damage caused by the global recession.

The insurance program is run by the city's tourism office through a private insurer, MAPFRE. Anyone staying at a Mexico City hotel is eligible for coverage, officials said, and can get help by dialing a call center, which will have attendants fluent in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.

A deductible will apply for some services, but officials did not provide details.

Read more on the tourist health insurance offer here.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Photo: Mexico City's Chapultepec park during the near-complete shutdown earlier this year during the flu outbreak. Deborah Bonello / Los Angeles Times.

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