Our last newsletter on healthcare and health insurance generated a LOT of discussion, both on our website and on facebook.
We received the following comment from a reader about “In the Mailbag: Regarding Getting Residency in Costa Rica and Joining the Caja.”
A good friend, who has been a PT for many years, recently had a cardiac event that had him in need of medical attention. His physician (private) had him transported to the (new!) CAJA hospital in Heredia on an emergency basis. He recieved excellent care there for the next six days. On discharge, he was given a bill that was a bit above $8,000. It was never “free” but it was very reasonable for the services recieved. He has made arrangement to pay this in two installments and has already done the first.
The lesson I take from this is that it is not foolhardy to expect to rely on the CAJA for emergency attention BUT expect to live up to the reality that you must also be prepared to pay your way.
This can be important for those who are remaining in the country while their applications for residency are slowly grinding their way through the system. However, if you arrive with a on-going and non-emergency need for medical services, be prepared to use the private sector and pay accordingly while waiting. The CAJA cannot address those issues.
Our experiences as residents with the CAJA have been very favorable although we do make use of the “medicina mixta” for some things – usually to speed things up. As always, your experiences will vary with where you choose to live. Just like with the weather here.
On facebook, we posted a link to our article, “Why Are People Leaving Costa Rica.” Here are some of the comments:
Rachel D. commented:
I think the hardest part of it for me would be the nieces/nephews/grands, but I already live far away from them, so I don’t see them often in person anyway now. I still have to fly to see most of them. The closest are an 11-hour drive away. If I could fly to see family here, I could still fly to see family from CR.
As for the challenges of living in a different country, I agree with that last sentence – it’s not about the destination, it’s about the adventure. I’m sure there would be frustrating elements, but I’d much rather deal with those than deal with the frustration of asking “why didn’t I do that when I had the chance?”
Dana J. wrote:
Its not just the people who are now eligible for Medicare that are returning. Recently talked to a younger couple who came here because health insurance had priced them out of the market in the US. Now, with the ACA (ObamaCare), they can afford to get insurance back in the USA, and they will be close to family as well as being able to find better paying jobs than they had before. Health insurance is a huge factor in peoples lives.
David Y. wrote:
I have always described Costa Rica as a hard paradise. I have been a frequent visitor for the last 17 years, and have made significant investments there, but would not describe it as easy. Worthwhile challenge, certainly. Interesting contrasts to the United States, absolutely. It also occurs to me that those who can do well in Costa Rica, were probably doing pretty well back home, and it makes since to me that at some point they might choose to return there, or never give it up altogether. I feel privileged to be able to come and go from my home in Costa Rica and my home in the States, and expect that I will continue to do so. What always impresses me upon return to the States, is how easy it is to do things here. And how relatively affordable things are here. I think it is the challenge of living in Costa Rica, and the locals remarkable patience and resilience in dealing with them, that attract me to the country in the first place. Not to mention Verano from January to May.
Regarding our article Applying for Permanent Residency in Costa Rica, a reader posted the following comment:
Good information Paul. We did the same thing about 18 months ago and have only progressed up to the “Resolucion Firma” stage. Please post your progress so we can compare. Do you plan to use their web tool to check on the application or will you revisit Punterenas? Also, do you know the location of any other Migracion offices that can also process this application? We know of La Uruca and now Punterenas but there may be others. La Uruca is swamped.
We responded to his questions with the following:
We will definitely post our progress. We plan to use the online tool to check the progress, probably after about 3 months. They told us in Puntarenas that it would take 3-4 months. I don’t know if they have other offices but I would imagine the info is on the Migracion website somewhere. Let us know what happens with yours as well. Can you define “Resolucion Firma?”
And his follow-up response was:
The various steps are defined here.
I take the “resolucion firmas” status to be that our application is still “in the works” and is waiting on someone to sign it. The website advises that I should check every 15 days to see if any progresshas been made. The next step is “resolucion notificada”, meaning that the resolution has been signed and is ready to pick-up (or has been faxed). Then an appointment must be made for the actual cedula (pictures, fingerprints etc) issuance.
In a discussion about the cost of living in Costa Rica, Rob E. wrote:
Sometimes I think of the opposite question of what it costs not to move to CR – staying in a boring job, declining health from lack of exercise and fast food, not being as happy as I can be. It seems like there is a “cost” of not being where you are happy. Say one has 20 years left, the real question is where and how do you want to spend the remaining time.”
And from Gilbert, the following note:
Thanks a million times and congratulations for your this so informative site. I enjoy reading it and absorbing these precious tips. I have visited CR last year (2013) and fell in love with the country and the people. We are planning another visit early 2015. My plan is to be a ”happy expat” like so many. Enjoy life … Pura vida.”