Costa Rica – my home country – has suddenly become part of the health care debate after celebrity radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh said that he would move to Costa Rica go to Costa Rica for health care if ObamaCare were approved by Congress the federal government gets too involved in health care in the next few years.
Soon after Sunday’s vote in the House of Representatives, a website was set up to buy Limbaugh a one-way, first-class ticket to Costa Rica. Liberals were quick to point out that my country has a socialized health care system that is among the best in Latin America.
People claim that in Costa Rica health care is a right, not a commodity. The problem surfaces when you actually need to exercise your “right.”
Last July, La Nación newspaper carried a report about one hospital that had 5,000 people on a waiting list for surgery, some waiting up to a year. Among those on the list, 900 patients waited months to have possible cancerous tumors extracted. According to the head of the Oncology Department, “We know that 85% to 90% will be cancer cases based on previous medical tests.” For many of these patients, the wait is the equivalent of a death sentence.
Stories like this are common in the Costa Rican press.
Unfortunately, the current nationalized health care system and the state-owned monopoly in health insurance stifle the development of a viable, dynamic private health care system. Thus, many Costa Ricans can’t imagine life without “free” health care. That’s too bad since there’s nothing free about mandatory monthly contributions from workers and nothing just about being forced to pay for deadly delays in health care attention.