Thursday, May 28, 2009

The way medical care should be

Well, short of "free and freely available" - I guess that would be okay too.

But failing that, this ASEMBIS organization is great.

Costa Rica has a public health care system that is free to those affiliated with it - which is almost everybody; formal employers have to cover their employees, and self-employed can sign themselves up for next to nothing a year. But the public system is overloaded (not unlike the immigration system, now that I think of it), and you can wait months - sometimes even years - for appointments and treatment.

There is a parallel, private health care system that offers high quality health care with little or no wait, but of course that's expensive. (Not as expensive as in the States, but it's a lot in the local economy; certainly enough to deter people *raises hand* from using it in the preventive way health care is meant to be used).

And then there's ASEMBIS. I don't know how they do it, but it's basically low-cost health care available to whoever walks in the door. They do optometry & ophthalmology, ear-nose-throat, general medical, gynecology, and a bunch of other stuff. That's where Bob and I got our eye tests ($3 for both; the full-on ophthalmological exam, which I'll get at some point, is $30. Actually, they're currently having a sale--yes, a sale--so that one's $20 at the moment.)

The three times I've sought appointments there, I've gotten exactly what I wanted every time - "if you can wait 20 minutes, we can take you right now" when we went for the eye exams; after school on the same day for Julia's toothache, and at the most convenient after-school time imaginable for Robin's appointment.

Robin's was today--no cavities, but she did need a cleaning ($28). We made sure to get the same doctor as Tuesday, because we liked him so much. I'll go back to him myself in a few weeks; it's been years and years since I had a cleaning.

And, surprising no one who has ever looked into her mouth, Robin also came away with a referral to an orthodontist. I'm gonna let that one sit for a few weeks while the cash flow recovers; ASEMBIS doesn't do orthodonture directly, and I have no idea how much that sort of thing runs here. But, I've seen her teeth on more than one occasion, and I'd say it's pretty inevitable, eventually.


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