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July 9th, 2008
Tonight I received a comment from a reader… and it pushed my rant button. I may be completely reading the comment incorrectly and assuming a wrong tone or meaning… and if I am, I apologize now… but the rant is still coming as I am replying to many others who I am sure I read correctly!
Here is her email, and if the topic interests you (and you can deal with my rant)… read on!
My family plans to relocate to Costa Rica, and I would like to know what your thoughts are regarding the recent activity by the Costa Rican Congress ending it’s 84 year old insurance, and telecom monopoly (CAFTA). How do you think this is going to effect the citizens of Costa Rica that have enjoyed a universal health care system, and what do you think the implications are for Americans residig in Costa Rica, that have been able to partake in this system?.
From the tone of your comment, and I get a LOT of these emails/comments, you are one of those believing anything having to do with CAFTA and the big bad horrible USA must be bad for everyone else. If I am wrong, I apologize in advance.
But you got some words right.. just not the facts which are more obscure… so let me explain.
1. The telecom monopoly, like the vast majority of monopolies is a huge, cost wasting enterprise, employing tens of thousands of workers, and is roughly 7 years behind the rest of the world in providing the things over which they have responsibility (technology).
In addition, as with most monopolies it gives awful customer service at ridiculous prices (for Internet and power, not for cell service). The “high speed Internet”, when it DOES work, is painfully slow, and the vast majority of Costa Ricans have access only to dial-up modem service in their homes. It has held the country back economically. strategically, and educationally.
The cell rates ARE well priced, but of the two systems here, the only one that works at ALL is the old TDMA system popular in the USA back in the 1990s. It works great!!
The “new” GSM system is absolutely horrible, works at best only 90% of the time and does not work at all in many locations… yet the monopoly is telling many, many thousands of Ticos to turn in their old working cell phones and buy the new GSM phones. For many Tico families, this is a MAJOR expense. Gotta LOVE those monopolies! In 2009, they will discontinue the only system that works.
This telecom also controls the electric power. Last year we went days and weeks suffering brownouts and blackouts. This was the result of an astonishing lack of simple population planning, and numerous families and businesses suffered greatly. The president had to spend a TON of money buying emergency equipment just to keep the lights lit.
In the history of the world, there have been good monopolies I am sure, but the vast majority provided lousy customer service, a crummy product, at unfair prices… This is why monopolies were outlawed in the USA about 50 years ago.
This model fits here… because there is no competition, they do as they please while giving the customers the one finger salute.
You wrote …”the recent activity by the Costa Rican Congress ending it’s 84 year old insurance… monopoly” and “How do you think this is going to effect the citizens of Costa Rica that have enjoyed a universal health care system”
You have things pretty mixed up. First, the congress had absolutely nothing to do with any of this.
The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was voted through by referendum…and was voted on by all Costa Ricans. The PEOPLE passed this treaty… not the congress. Hmmm. I wonder if the overwhelmingly super service provide by their telcom monopoly had anything to do with that vote!
After CAFTA passed, the congress had to alter existing laws to bring them into concordance with the terms of CAFTA that the PEOPLE OF COSTA RICA approved.
This is something that sorta grinds me in emails I receive… the perceived arrogance of those who think THEY know more than the Costa Rican people. I am not saying the writer said or implied this, but others have many times. The Costa Rican people are bright, intelligent, well educated people and right or wrong, they made their will known. Time will tell if it was a good decision, but I can assure you that never in my life have I EVER seen a more informed public on a topic up for referendum. Costa Rica could give civics lessons to any country in the world after the manner in which they handled the TLC (CAFTA).
So now there will be other insurance companies offering policies with wider coverages with larger groups and therefore possibly lower rates. There are dozens of huge international insurers who can now legally sell their products to those of us who live in Costa Rica. Now, perhaps a 50 year old women driver will not have to pay $1,400 per year for car insurance the same as her 19 year old son.
Oh… that’s right! There IS no compulsory insurance so only a very few people ever buy insurance because it can represent more than 10% of their annual income! Enjoy your next trip here! Drive defensively!
Your email implies that the “Universal Health Care” is going away. It is not. THE CCSS (CAJA) is alive and well. Good thing as my wife works for a CCSS hospital!
Oh… and to be clear… “Universal Health Care” is just socialized medicine… and just as in Sweden, Canada, England and other places, the system does not work for anyone except the very poor and seldom works well for them. Lines are huge. Several hours is common at my wife’s hospital. Generic medicine are prescribed to save money, but sadly they are purchased from a variety of countries and there is no quality control and therefore many medicines just do not work. I can vouch personally that that is true.
Waits for a doctors visit can take months and often DO. Waits for major surgery or even some minor surgeries can take years. The poor suffer with this crap as they have to… same as they will soon in the USA. Everyone else buys private insurance so they can see the doctor of their choice at the hospital of their choice a the time of their choice. For those of you who are “Universal Health Care” fans… I wish you well. It looks great on paper, but I have yet to see it work well. I can assure any middle class Gringo tht moves here that you will eventually get CAJA and buy private insurance in case you get sick.
So what do I think the implications are for Americans residing in Costa Rica, that have been able to partake in this system?. Not much… Nothing has changed, just more offerings and some of those are years away. If they use CAJA now, they will continue to use CAJA. If they buy private insurance now, they will soon have other options and perhaps better prices. If they are tired of paying car insurance as though they were an 18 year old male overdosed on testosterone… they will likely be happy with premiums that reflect their age, driving history and experience! Someone may come in and actually offer true hi speed Internet for less than $80 per month WITH reliable service and connections that actually do not die every day at 3 PM. Note I am referring here to TRUE high speed as you would find in most developed countries.
Costa Ricans will benefit I think by better services lower prices (or more for the money they do pay).
Even now, with the arrival of those big awful businesses from the bad ole USA, (like Walmart), customer service policies are changing country wide! Why imagine a Tico who can actually exchange a brand new and very costly TV (but one that was totally DOA right out of the box), instead of having to wait 3-4 months while it gets returned to the factory in Korea for repair!
Can you imagine?
And again… if I misread your email, I apologize… but that’s the problem with email… no visual or aural clues to clarify. Also, enough others have written about how they hate the USA, big business, Bush, Obama, and God that I am just getting fed up with it. As a famous bird once sang… Get Over It.Filed under CAFTA, Cost of Living, Cost Of Living Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Free Trade Agreement, ICE, Internet, Opinion, Politics, Questions from Readers, Rants, TLC | Comments (20)