Is Costa Rica Healthier Than The US?
Life expectancy in the USA is 73.5 (m) and 79.3 years (f) while in Costa Rica is 77.9 years (m) and 82.8 years (f). So, if Costa Rica has better life expectancy than the US, maybe there are a couple of lessons that can be learned to improve the statistics. Before public health insurance in Costa Rica, life expectancy was lower than the USA by 13 years approximately and then 20 years later and with significantly less income per capita, Costa Rica surpassed the United States in life expectancy.
Costa Rica, for example, provides potable water for most of its population, mandatory and free vaccination for minors, vaccination for adults too, schools campaigns, home visitations for disabled and elderly and other additional measures to ensure that the people living in the country don’t get sick in the first place.
Yes, while going to a public medical center in Costa Rica (CCSS) can take a lot of your time, several health professionals will ask you why you went to their services and medication can take some time to be given; the Caja will take care of your health and in case of serious illness, you won’t have to pay any additional fee for hospitalizations, medication, follow ups or specialized medics. It is a system that can use a lot of improvement but it is efficient and safe. Also, the CCSS invests in new hi-tech equipment and good professionals.
In Costa Rica, the Caja have several kinds of medical centers, for example:
- Ebais. Little clinics for neighborhoods that check general doctor consultations, pregnancy follow ups, basic follow ups, receive samples for laboratories and distribute local medications.
- Clinics. Full equipped clinics with laboratories, medicine warehouse, specialized, general doctor and specialized medical consultations, emergencies services. Less capacity than a hospital.
- Blood banks. You can donate blood in those.
During Covid, Costa Rica made the investment to purchase the coronavirus vaccines for all of its population, including the ones not paying the public insurance and they were provided in places like clinics but also malls and even buses to reach as many people as they could.
The United States of America doesn’t yet have a universal healthcare program for its citizens and due to the politics of the country, doesn’t seem probable to have one. The government of this country pays for medical programs limited to elderly, pregnant people, disabled, veterans, underaged persons and poor people but mostly, companies pay for private insurance for their employees and more often than usual, employees have to pay a part of the medical attention which can be extremely expensive.
The integration made between public health and healthcare benefits the government and citizens through the solidarity of the Costa Rican health system, even with its shortcomings and areas for improvement.
Yearly, more than 1.4 million US citizens visit as tourists, around 120.000 decide to retire and 8.000 exchange students come to Costa Rica and it is mostly due to the democratic politics that the country offers, public benefits and cost of living.