The medical system

Now, I can only comment and tell you my personal experiences when it comes to healthcare in Costa Rica.  So, keep that in mind.  Someone again today asked me to explain how our system works here and I thought I would just share a little more on that topic.  My husband and I are on the Pensionado residency status, so we pay based off of our income.  We pay just under $100 a month right now for both of us.  This covers everything, medical, dental, vision, and specialists.  We have no co-pays or deductibles to meet, no out of pocket expenses.  Then I always hear, well someone is paying for it.  Yes, we all pay for it, just like you do in the United States with your insurance premiums.  If you think that your insurance premiums are just for you, then you are sadly mistaken.  Your premiums are pooled together to help someone else pay their medical bills.  You do not just pay for yourself, you pay for everyone that is signed up with that insurance provider.  I love it when people say that they shouldn’t have to pay for someone else to have medical coverage, well, you already do.  Get over it.

People ask, can it take a while to get into to see a specialist, yes.  Just like it can in the States sometimes.  I know of one specialist in Colorado that has a six month waiting list to get in to see him.  So, it happens there too.  Does it take a while to get into see your doctor, no.  I can go in the morning and make an appointment for the same day.  If it is an emergency, I go down to the ER clinic and get in there.  Does it take a long time to have surgery, it can.  Just depends on what is going on.  Yes, I had a very long wait for my surgery, but it was done the same day.  They saved my life.  They saved the life of my daughter also.  She had to have an emergency surgery while visiting.  She was under 18, so still a minor.  There was no charge for minors, they believe in caring for ALL children no matter where they are from.  I almost broke down in tears, as we are on a fixed income and was worried about the cost.  We both had great care in a public hospital, many doctors and nurses spoke English.  I even had a doctor the other day ask me if I could teach her English because she wanted to learn.  Amazing people here.

So, how is it paid for?  This is where we help each other.  Everyone who has a job, the insurance comes out automatically, just like where you pay into medicare and medicaid in the US.  We do have a higher sales tax, like many European countries.  We do have a very high import tax also.  But, I don’t mind paying these if it is going to help my neighbor get her cancer treatment.  She is now enjoying her time with her first grandson.  She is cancer free.  Is our system in trouble, yes.  I won’t lie about it.  Could it be better, yes of course.  It is not perfect.  One thing I have noticed about being here, the money that is invested into our local hospitals and clinics through the public system is about care.  It is not about making the building look beautiful and perfect.  You can go to my clinic here and think this place looks like a dump, but once you get to know the staff you feel the love and care and the pride they take in their job.  I hobbled in the other day, I saw the pharmacist and she waved and said hello to me.  The receptionist came out and brought me a wheelchair.  So, the wheelchair didn’t have leg rests, who cares, I was sitting and off of my ankle.  I am not too picky and I have worked in the medical field in the States.  I am more concerned about my quality of care, not what it looks like.  They do keep it very clean there.  The lady who cleans the clinic, cleans all day and everyday.  She is always sweeping and mopping the floors, wiping down walls and counters, and cleaning the bathrooms.  They love to clean.  There is paint coming off the walls, no screens in the windows, only a few rooms with A/C.  But I am always made to feel comfortable and relaxed about being there.  You can have the most beautiful clinic there is, but without the care it means nothing.  I have worked in a very nice clinic in the US and the people there were ugly, they told patients lies.  They had no integrity.  I feel very lucky to be here where I am at in the beautiful country.  Pura Vida!