What if you get Sick

No matter how good the year-round temperatures, the water supply, and the sanitation, its almost impossible to avoid getting sick no matter where in Latin America you choose to retire. In Costa Rica, the altitude in some parts of the country, coupled with a high pollen count at certain times of the year, could affect those people plagued with sinusitis, hay fever, or asthma. Colds could also be bothersome during the rainy season. No matter how careful you are, you might eventually suffer from some intestinal problems.
At least you can take comfort in the fact that Costa Rica is known for its quality medical care, well-trained doctors, and competent private clinics. A list of English-speaking, U.S-trained doctors and their specialties is available from the U.S. Embassy in San Jose. You can also find a good doctor through word-of-mouth simply by asking other retirees. Or you can locate a physician by looking in the Yellow Pages under Medicos.
Many of the doctors on staff at major hospitals in San Jose speak English and have been trained in the United States or Europe. Obviously, hospitals in areas outside San Jose may not always have such capable staff members on hand.
No matter where you go, doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for health services, although a few hospitals now take credit cards. Many Americans prefer this way of paying for health care, and are able to do so since costs are much lower than in industrialized countries. In fact, many Americans come to Costa Rica for plastic surgery, dental work, cataract operations, sessions at health spas, and other procedures because they are so inexpensive here. Liposuction ranges in price from $1,500 to $2,500, plus $300 to $500 for the hospital stay. Facelifts range from $2,000 to $3,500, with $700 to $900 for hospital costs. An eye examination costs less than $4.
The low cost of health care and labor also make custodial care of the elderly less expensive. Golden Valley Hacienda offers specialized care for Alzheimer patients, and Villa Comfort Geriatric Hotel provides a comfortable atmosphere for the elderly who just need help in everyday living. The cost is about $1,500 a month for around-the-clock care; phone 221-6381, 433-8191, or
Clinicas are private hospitals, available to foreigners at decent rates. The others are social-security hospitals that provide emergency service to everyone, including foreigners. All have X-ray facilities, laboratories, and pharmacies, although the social-security hospitals will be cheaper than private facilities. However, the social- security hospitals will not accept insurance from the National Insurance Institute.
Many Americans like the Cilinica Biblica or Clinica Catolica, a both private facilities, because of the high quality of care. English Speaking medical professional can be found in the Yellow Pages, and many advertise in tourist guides and English-language magazines. Although doctors in social-security hospitals are well qualified, lines and paperwork at these facilities can be time-consuming, especially for someone who is not feeling well.
Hospitals and clinics in San Jose include:
Calderon Guardia INS insurance and some credit
Avenida 9, Calle 17
Phone: 224-4133
Clinica Catolica
This is a social-security facility.
Phone: 223-6422
This is a private facility that offers emergency service mammograms, cardiology, pathology, etc. It accepts
Phone: 225-9095
This is a private facility that offers emergency service, respiratory therapy, ultrasound, etc. It accepts INS insurance and most credit cards.
San Juan de Dios
Paseo Colon, Calle 14 Phone: 222-0166
Clinica Americana Calle Central/ 1, Avenida 14
Phone: 222-1010
This is a private facility that does not accept insurance or credit cards.
Clinica Biblica
Calle Central/I, Avenida 14

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