When Rush Limbaugh recently threatened to “leave for Costa Rica” if health care reform passed, many of his critics mistakenly thought he was pledging to move there. In actuality, he was answering a caller’s question about where he would seek health care, not citizenship.
Now that health care reform has passed, Limbaugh has been forced to defend his statement. Ironically, the true quote contains no less hypocrisy than the one erroneously attributed to him. The healthcare system in Costa Rica is a combination of government and private insurance coupled with public and private hospitals, paralleling what the reform bill will create here. If the public option is eventually passed, the two systems will be nearly identical.
The Costa Rica system is paid for by an 11% tax on workers (a daunting figure until you discover the per capita cost, which also includes a mandatory pension plan, equals only about $100 a month). This tiny country of 4.5 million has figured out how to pay for universal health care and social security at a cost to the economy of less than $1200 per person, per year.
I am sure most of Rush’s listeners would be surprised to discover that given a choice of any health system in the world, the “government takeover” Costa Rica model is the one he chooses to support. It sounds very similar to the proposals he has railed against for years in this country. Of course he rails against entitlements, even though he has accepted them. He rails against leniency for drug offenders, although as a drug offender himself, he begged for mercy from prosecutors.
So, after closer examination, this hypocrisy is not so baffling. In fact, it’s completely understandable, once you discover that, in Costa Rica, many drugs can be purchased legally without a prescription. I wonder if Oxycontin is on that list? Sure beats having your housekeeper drive around Puntarenas looking for a Denny’s parking lot where she can score some “baby blues”.