Is Costa Rica A Safe Haven?
We have gotten many calls recently from people saying they are thinking about leaving the United States because of the political climate and government control. What it often comes down to is that many want to leave the US and find a place where they can get good cheap medical care – that is usually the bottom line. It is unfortunate that Americans from the US are turning into medical refugees. I know we don’t want to be called that but that is what we are. Many of us are coming with the pretense that it is all about the government and what is going on but the bottom line for most is that our country does not have fair and equitable medical coverage for its citizens. If you are not working for a top-rated company that is making a lot of money, medical benefits are very expensive and most companies are shying away from offering them. Some companies are not hiring people who have illnesses (aka pre-existing conditions), which would cause their medical insurance coverage to increase. Wouldn’t it be something if you qualified for a job, and everything looked promising, but then the employer finds you have thyroid problems or you have diabetes, and gives the job to someone less qualified but with no health issues?
I can’t give you the exact figures, but something like 60% of the US people coming here to live in Costa Rica are sick and have extensive medical problems. Some of their medical conditions call for a lot of medicine and oftentimes surgery.
Last Sunday, the pastor of my church announced that the government was reducing its medical expenses by making extensive cuts in staff, pay and other services at the local hospital. The church was called to prayer because they said the hospital was currently below standard, and further cuts would only jeopardize lives.
In Costa Rica the government runs everything. Many Americans tell me that the reason for leaving the US is that the government is getting too big and its impact into our lives is just far more than it should be. It is amazing when a person comes here and in order to get a telephone they need to apply for that telephone from the government. It’s true. The government runs all the utilities, transportation and many other services. There are some private hospitals, and overall the cost of care IS less than in the US, but the very low cost insurance program that lures so many people here is offered through what we call the CAJA, and that is a government-controlled program.
Most of the conversations I’ve had with people wanting to come to Costa Rica remind me of a story about this woman who was envious of her neighbor because her neighbors’ husband appeared to be everything a woman would want in a man. He kept his yard nice, he took out the trash, he played with the children, he went to church with her, he even went shopping with her. He seemed to be so very attentive of his wife and the neighbor longed to have that attention from her husband. Well, the envious woman got a divorce from her husband and her neighbors’ husband began to look even better than ever. Then the neighbor got sick and she died, leaving her husband and children. The woman began to pitch in and help – she helped so much until the neighbor proposed to her. They got married and she discovered some things. From her outside observations the husband seemed to be that wonderful attentive husband she had never had. What she found out was that she got herself into a situation of a very controlling husband. The reason why the man was so attentive to his wife was because he was controlling and not attentive. He monitored everything she did. He never gave her money – that is why he went to the store to shop with her. He went to church with her not because he was seeking God, but because he wanted to control what she heard and what she would possibly believe. So while he seemed like he was really attentive, in reality he was really controlling.
That is the way it is with anything you observe from the outside. What it appears to be is often what it is not. Before you make the decision to give the dog away, sell the boat, house and car, you need to come to Costa Rica and live for a period of time to see if living here is really what you want to do.
I love Costa Rica but that love has caused me to give up some things that perhaps you would not be willing to give up.
Come visit us at La Terraza Guest House in Grecia, Costa Rica.