Right-wing radio talker Rush Limbaugh must be confused.
During a recent broadcast, he vowed to "go to Costa Rica" if President Obama is successful in passing his health reform legislation. Most assumed he meant the statement in the vein of his promise to leave New York City over its tax rates, which he did. Now Limbaugh is saying he will not leave the U.S., as in, move away. Instead, Limbaugh claims that he will simply "go to Costa Rica" for his medical care.
Interestingly enough, even as the Republican icon has made many a dollar damning proposals for public health care in the United States, his future hospital bed in Costa Rica will be watched over by the same "socialists" he's so known for deriding.
Costa Rica, you see, has socialized health care operated by a government insurance monopoly, which provides a remarkably high quality of service for a fraction of the costs routinely seen in the United States.
"Costa Rica’s public health insurance system, commonly known as the Caja, is available country-wide to all citizens and legal residents," the Costa Rican government's Web site explains. "There are ten major public hospitals – four in San Jose, including the Children’s Hospital – affiliated with the Caja. For non-emergencies and everyday medical care, small clinics, known as EBAIS (pronounced ay-vy-ice), are located in almost every community."
Prior to the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), all health care in Costa Rica was paid for under a single payer system and the country developed a global reputation as a prime destination for medical tourism due to the high quality of care at very low costs. After CAFTA, Costa Rica began accepting international private insurer's policies, though they are made available through a government-operated insurance monopoly.
"Most plans cover dental work, optometry, and cosmetic surgery in the case of an accident, and neither pre-existing conditions nor annual check-ups are included," the Costa Rican government claims. "Prescription drugs, certain medical exams, sick visits and hospitalization are covered at 70% cost, and surgeon and aesthetician costs are covered at full cost. Currently, private medical insurance costs about $50-$100/month per person, depending on age, gender and other factors."
"I did not say I'm going to Costa Rica," Limbaugh claimed, even though the audio of him saying exactly that is readily available. "The stupid people in the media who cannot trouble themselves to read my transcripts or listen to this program, listen to out of context stuff. I was asked yesterday where will I go for health care if Obama's health care passes, and I said if doctors here are not permitted to form private practice little clinics with individuals paying a fee, a retainer, and for services, then I'll go to Costa Rica to get major medical health care. I didn't say I would move there."
This is the second time Limbaugh has unwittingly praised the very type of health care system he claims to despise.
After experiencing chest pains while vacationing in Hawaii, Limbaugh was rushed to a hospital and checked out by doctors, who pronounced him healthy. Once discharged, the right-wing jock praised Hawaii's health care by lumping it in with health services all over America: "the best health care in the world," he said.
However, Hawaii's system is the closest thing the United States has to a socialized health program, where all workers are provided with a "generous" health policy by their employer and nurses are unionized. One reporter further noted that many components of Hawaii's health system are now embedded in President Obama's reforms.
Because of their progressive health system, Hawaii's insurance premiums are the lowest among the 50 states and life expectancy is much higher compared to the continental U.S.
Limbaugh continues to insist that if President Obama's health reforms pass, "people will die."
Currently, over 46 million Americans do not have a health insurance policy. Their emergency health care costs, which are grossly inflated compared to rates offered to insurers and the insured, are ultimately paid for by the public. A Harvard study published by the American Journal of Public Health in 2009 revealed that over 45,000 Americans die each year for lack of health insurance: a greater number than the deaths caused by kidney disease.