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Postre: Health Care Bill; Costa Rica vs. US Medical Costs (Tim Brown, US) (John Eipper, USA, 03/23/10 6:51 pm)
Tim Brown writes: We just returned from an extended stay in Costa Rica, a country with a life-expectancy higher than the US, where we received private medical and dental treatment. Last year my wife was treated at the number one-rated eye clinic in the US, the Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute in Miami. In Costa Rica she was treated by one of the top ophthalmologists in that country who received his MD in the US and specialized at Bascom-Palmer. Both were first rate. But there was a big difference. Bascom-Palmer cost more than $4,000 while Costa Rica cost $90. And yet Bascom-Palmer cost us less out of pocket because Medicare picked up more than 90% while our secondary picked up the rest. But Medicare does not pay outside the US, so we had to pay all of the charges out of pocket in Costa Rica. But in Costa Rica they also made her some new glasses for C9,000, or $15 and Medicare doesn't cover glasses, so it balanced out. In fact in the long run we will make money because, while Medicare doesn't pay outside the US, medical travel costs are tax deductible. When it came to dental, I was the one that was treated. One US dentist had given me an estimate of $9,000 for extensive work he said absolutely had to be done, and soon, including four crowns and curetage. Another said I only needed three crowns and just some curetage, so it would be only about $5-6,000. In Costa Rica a dentist that had specialized in the US assured me I needed only one crown and had absolutely no need for curetage as my gums were perfectly healthy. The cost? $500. Several US war veterans that live just around the corner from where we were staying receive all their medical services in Costa Rica because the US Veterans Administration pays there. The US military also pays for all services received in Costa Rica by both active duty personnel and their dependents and the same is apparently true for retired railroad workers and some other Federal beneficiaries. Why do some US Federal programs pay in Costa Rica while Medicare does not? You tell me. JE comments: Excellent questions. If Medicare paid for non-US treatment, wouldn't it save the government a good deal of money?