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The public health system in Costa Rica, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), has a very important purpose for those on a limited monthly budget. Personally, I must have, over the years, thousands of dollars of medications as well as thousands of hours of waiting for an appointment which might, or might not come to fruition.

On the other hand, one can easily be insured by INS or other companies with one huge deductible for services rendered and might need to sell a car or mortgage a home to cover the bill. “Yes,” certainly the private care system is more convenient and indeed often times the quality of medicine is superior.

As a member of the CCSS or CAJA as it is commonly refereed to,  I cannot complain. The monthly premium is right and the quality of health is fine. When in need of emergency care, the CAJA is excellent.

However, waiting in endless lines for prescriptions or making appointments is not only frustrating but diabolical. I, at times, have waited so long that I forgot what I wanted in the first place.

I have encouraged my wife, an able and expert at managing the patient cause at the CAJA that she should open a service. Somehow she sits me down with a bottle of water and goes off to arrange all that is needed for surgery to a Cat Scan.

And, she comes back with the right appointments, and a smile as if I am the victim of this nonsense. (I love her for that alone!)

How? I have no idea because as a gringo I am confronted with massive chaos. But, she knows the way and has done it for me over and again. I want to learn her system for me as it all seems similar to putting another space aircraft to the moon. I am but a simple person who follows the line with arrows while she manipulates those lines in order to get us out of the CAJA within a reasonable time period and across the street for lunch.

Me? I feel like Edgar Burgan talking with Charlie McCarthy. LOST!

The door #1 opens and calls my name which I do not even recognize. That’s only to weigh me in and check the blood pressure by a non-descript technician who pronounces the result somewhere between alive and dead. Then back to waiting in the massive San Juan de Dios cage of patients mixed with patient visitors.

Don’t get me wrong, the place is not dirty except the restrooms, which really suck.

Listen up!

There is an alternative in town that costs, not too much, but is clean, comfortable, very little waiting time and the people actually say, “Thank you.”

The cost of health care is between CIMA (private hospital) and the CAJA, and much closer to the CAJA. The treatment is personal and 1st. class, the workers actually like people and there are many health services available available all over most of Cost Rica. (At least if you must drive or bus your way into Santa Ana) you do not need to sit on your butt with La Nación and an Allende book to kill endless hours of time.

I have repeatedly tried Fundacion de Salud and have found it a viable alternative to private practice and theCAJA.

The Fundación can save your teeth or even whiten them for that matter to a Tico smile which the CAJA does not or will not do. On the other hand, as a primary care medical facility, the Fundación does not perform surgery but is rather a primary care facility only albeit at an affordable price absent of the endless waiting.

The best news, the Fundación is ½ or less the price of “private practice” and one hell of a lot more convenient than the infamous CAJA.

This is NOT a paid advertising. QCostarica.com does not have any paid arrangement with the Fundacion.