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Costa Rica and Life Expectancy



Costa Ricans are a healthy people.

The infant mortality rate of less than 11 in 100,000 live births in Costa Rica is lower than that in the United States. This figure is on par with any industrialized country in the world. Life expectancy is 76.3 years for men and 79.8 years for women. Today, an 80 year old man has a life expectancy of at least 8 years more. This puts Costa Rica in first place in the world for life expectancy from this age forward. Actually it's 8.4 years. Iceland and Japan follow with 7.7 years. The Costa Rica women at age 80 are actually expected to live longer than the men of the same age, 9.5 years slightly behind the women of Japan and France.

Statistics from the World Health Organization's "The World Health Report 1995" place Costa Rica third, in life expectancy in the world, sandwiched neatly behind Japan and France and ahead of Great Britain and the United States; and with a per capita income about one tenth that of the other four.

Certainly, some reasons for this can be found in the Costa Rican laid back lifestyle, the healthy, fresh, non-preservative laden foods of the country, the tropical climate Costa Rica seems to be a healthy place to live.

But if one looks simply at the life issues, so are many other places on the globe. Costa Rica is a healthy place to live, because its government continues a long- time commitment to affordable access to one of the finest health care systems in the world, for each and every citizen.

  • Prescriptions are not needed on most products in Costa Rica.
  • You can take a 90-day supply back to the USA.
  • You'll save up to 80%, compared to U.S. drugstores.

In a United Nations study conducted in the 1980s, Costa Rica's medical system was first in Latin America and ranked near the United States and Canada, among the 20 best in the world. Things are pretty much the same today.

Costa Rica's lack of a standing army and its historical commitment to the social and educational welfare of its citizens, have provided the foundation, for a highly developed medical system, internationally speaking confirmed by plastic surgeon, Dr. Arnoldo Fournier.

He confirms, "It's not the surgeons who have provided this, but the entire history of our country, that gives us this advantage."

Dr. Logino Soto Pacheco, Chief of Surgery at Hospital Mexico, premier cardiac surgeon in Costa Rica and one of the foremost in the world, claims that, Costa Rica is unique in its world position in health care.

"I have studied every health care system in the Americas, and I can assure you that nowhere else can compare to what Costa Rica offers its citizens," he stated emphatically.

Who would doubt these words from the man who assembled he Costa Rican surgical team which performed the first successful heart transplant in Latin America.

With a government - sponsored network, of 29 hospitals and more than 250 clinics, throughout the country, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) has primary responsibility for providing low cost, health services, to the Costa Rican population.

Though presently somewhat overburdened, like most of the Costa Rican infrastructure, this system has worked well for Costa Ricans for the past 50 or so years. Open not just to Ticos, the CCSS provides affordable medical service to any foreign resident or visitor.

Foreigners living in Costa Rica can join the CCSS by paying a small monthly fee, based on their income or they can buy health insurance, from the State monopoly Instituto de Seguro Nacional (INS), valid with over 200 affiliated doctors, hospitals, labs and pharmacies, in the private sector.

Two well-known private hospitals, Clinica Biblica and Clinica Catolica, where many CCSS doctors practice in the afternoons and evenings, offer first-class, ultra modern services.

Affiliated with U.S. hospitals, these two private providers have costs somewhat higher than the public providers, but still way below anything found in the States. Most Costa Rican doctors and dentists receive their basic medical training in Costa Rica. From here, they travel far and wide, seeking specialized training from the finest teaching hospitals in the world, often becoming certified in their specialties, in the countries where they receive their advanced training.

It is not uncommon to find a Costa Rican doctor or dentist, speaking several languages, all learned, while pursuing advanced degrees in foreign countries. Perhaps it is the CCSS work or the varied travel and study that do it, but the caring expressed by the doctors and dentists, throughout the country, is noteworthy in its extreme.

In 1991, two economists from the University of Costa Rica conducted a survey, of visitors to this country. Their findings, documented in the study, indicated that 14.25% of all visitors came for the express purpose, of receiving medical care of some type.

Over the years, Costa Rica has attracted those in search of uplifting cosmetic surgery. People from around the world; arrive daily to partake of the healing waters in over 100 thermal and mineral springs located here.

Dental work, from fillings to implants, is done routinely on people from every corner of the world. Many people from Latin America plan for their medical needs from hip replacement to heart valve replacement to be taken care of by the well-trained and skillful physicians, in Costa Rica, rather than in their native countries.

Clearly then, not only does Costa Rica offer universal health care coverage to its citizens, but that same high quality care is available for people from all over the world.


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