Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Costa Rica's Newest Fan

It now appears that on Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh did not say that he would move to Costa Rica if health care legislation passes here, only that he would go there to be treated. For now, those of us who question Limbaugh's dedication to our country will have to content ourselves with comments about hoping President Obama fails and remarks comparing the President to the likes of cartoon characters:

At any rate, it is in this defiance and it is in this attitude -- and I know people like this: "You can't touch me!" We're dealing with Bart Simpson here who's just burned down the house, who's saying, "You can't prove it. Nobody saw me do it. You can't touch a thing."

But that still leaves the matter of health care preferences. Like Sarah Palin, Limbaugh claims to believe believes health care reform is leading us down the path to socialism. However, he is slightly more specific, demonstrating his love for the private health insurance industry with such fantasies as

Obama's health care proposal is not about health care. It's about nationalizing two and a half trillion dollars of the US private sector and putting the government in charge of it and then being able to regulate almost every aspect of life possible. It is an attempt to overthrow a portion of the US private sector, pure and simple.

It would seem, therefore, that Limbaugh is hostile toward all health care systems in which government plays, or would play after passage of the health care reform, a greater role than it does in the U.S.A. Or maybe not, as he implied in his (in)famous comment from Tuesday (video, below, from The Young Turks via YouTube providing some context and entertaining commentary):

I'll just tell you this. If this passes and it's five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented -- I am leaving the country. I'll go to Costa Rica.

Maybe that's not such a bad idea, given that the life expectancy in Costa Rica is a year better than in the United States on a per capita income less than one-sixth of that in the U.S.A. And how do they do it? It seems that Costa Rica is not such a paradise for Rush's beloved private insurance industry. According to Think Progress

The government owns several major public hospitals and operates small clinics in almost every community. Workers are required to contribute 15% of their salaries to health insurance and the unemployed “obtain public funding for all health services, including prescription drugs.” Most Costa Ricans obtain their health care through a public plan called the Caja- similar to our Medicare or the proposed public option.

(Note to the rabidly pro-Obama Center for American Progress: Neither the Senate bill nor the President's proposals for its modification includes a public option. Note to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin: the same.)

In Costa Rica, private insurance is virtually nonexistent (report in pdf) and

to compare the Costa Rican share of public health expenditures with that of high-income countries: Costa Rica is in line with Canada (71% of public funds in 2000), lags behind New Zealand and Sweden (78% and 85%, respectively), and fares far better than the United States (44%). These figures demonstrate the high degree of solidarity of the Costa Rican health system. Similarly, public insurance coverage illustrates the system’s equity. As an example, public health insurance coverage in 2000 was universal in Canada, New Zealand, and Sweden; in that same year, the coverage rate in Costa Rica was 82%, as compared with approximately 25% in the United States.

Will Rush Limbaugh be asked why he prefers to receive health care in a (relatively) Socialist paradise rather than in a country with an employer-based, private-insurance system? A breathless nation awaits.

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