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Medical Care and Options Part 2

April 13th, 2016

MedSymThe purpose of this post is twofold.

First, I want to thank the many readers who communicated with me after my last post, part of which discussed what I had learned from my cancer treatments.  I cannot begin to express how much I appreciate the numerous comments and best wishes I received via email, phone calls, and comments from the various ex-pat groups on Facebook.  Thank you so much!  As an update, I have completed all the treatments (last week), and now I wait.  The doctors are very optimistic and tell me that they believe I have beaten this thing.  Feels great.  I will now take various tests about every 90-120 days to confirm their positive prognosis. Again… thanks to all.  Very unexpected but very appreciated.

As for part 2, from the questions I received, it seems I need to clarify some of the info in my past post. Interested?  Read on!

First, and this is directed at ex-pats or others now living in Costa Rica.  There will be times when you may need to obtain tests and treatments from outside the CAJA. This can be because:

  1. The CAJA cannot perform the testing or process on a timely manner. This is not uncommon. I recall a woman a couple of years back who was diagnosed with cancer, required immediate surgery, but was told by the CAJA she must wait two years! In essence… a death sentence.  Via La Defensoría de los Habitantes de la República, an organization part of the Government of Costa Rica and what can be considered to be an ombudsman for anyone living in CR , she brought suit, (a denuncia) in front of one of the Supreme Court branches and the CAJA was ordered to provide her the surgery forthwith. Many people use La Defensoría when they feel wronged or powerless in front of the system.  Good thing to keep in mind. You do not have to be a citizen or resident to use them.
  2. The required test or procedures are simply not available through the CAJA.
  3. You do not have CAJA or private insurance so you will be paying out of pocket.

Second, one of the major points was that the costs for these private treatments or tests can vary tremendously. You have to shop!  The example I provided for one simple test showed the difference between the highest and lowest cost of a CT scan was an incredible 520,000 colones or  US $982.00. One test! Unless you are quite wealthy, you can save a ton of money by just shopping medical services as you might for groceries.

I received comments from several folks stating that they do not speak Spanish very well… or at all… and they were concerned about not being able to communicate their needs.  The solution is to work with someone bi-lingual. A friend, neighbor, whatever.  All you need is for the doctor to write down the test or process needed.  I can promise you that while you may feel a bit more comfy using a hospital like Clinica Biblica that has many bi-lingual physicians and technicians, you are paying a huge premium for that privilege. Excellent hospital but a CT scan is a CT scan. The same applies for dentistry or other medical services.

I also receive a lot of email regarding MediSmart.  Apparently, a number of people thought this was some sort of health insurance plan and sent me a bunch of insurance options, most of which were brutally expensive.  MediSmart simply offers highly discounted medical services for a fraction of the normal cost. The web site is in Spanish, but using Google Translate can give you a reasonable translation.

Anyway, MediSmart is a service that costs very little per person but offers huge discounts. A lot of my readers are over 50 so you know that we do suffer minor things that deserve attention. I just made appointments for a dermatologist and a orthopedist. Appointments with either of those type of doctors would easily run $60.00 to $80.00 each.  I’ll pay a fraction of that, maybe $40.00 total.  Should something serious come about (unlikely), I can then make a decision to either use those physicians or get second opinions. I expect neither of my problems to be serious and beats waiting 2-6 months for an appointment at the CAJA clinics were newly minted doctors learn by trial and error… on you.

If you use MediSmart, you will be treated at Hospital Metropolitano located in downtown San Jose maybe 2-3 blocks south of Hospital San Juan de Dios. My experience there has been very satisfactory.  Wait time less than ten minutes and the diagnosis’ received were spot on. I needed 4 x-rays, also highly discounted.  Ample parking.

That’s it.  I hope this clarifies my last post.  Again, thanks for all the kind comments and best wishes.

Finally, for those asking if I still offer my tours, the answer is yes if anyone is interested and planning or thinking about a move to Costa Rica.  I am doing just fine!





4 Responses to “Medical Care and Options Part 2”

  1. Steven Friedman on April 13, 2016 6:32 pm

    Good follow-up!

  2. Gypsie Mayher on May 27, 2016 12:24 am

    Thanks for all the info. Very informative & helpful.
    Appreciate all the details. Wonderful news you are
    doing so well.

  3. Robert Maguire on May 30, 2016 9:09 am

    Hi, Tim! I’m very glad to hear that things are looking optimistic for you. Fingers crossed that the doctors are absolutely right about your prognosis.

    Maggie and I will be moving to CR around September 2017. Hope we run into each other (but NOT at a hospital!)

    Bob Maguire

  4. Tim on May 30, 2016 9:14 am

    Thanks Bob… all seems to be OK!

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