Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh — who has been one of health care reform’s most vociferous opponents — warned his loyal troop of “ditto heads” that if health care passes, he’ll leave the country for Costa Rica. “I’ll just tell you this,” Limbaugh said to a concerned caller. “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.”
Limbaugh’s announcement could very well inspire liberals to pass reform, but his decision to re-locate to Costa Rica is also telling. Limbaugh probably chose Costa Rica because its tropical climate reminded him of his swanky New York City bachelor pad and he believed that this tiny Central American nation — population 4 million — couldn’t insure its citizens.
But unbeknownst Rush, Costa Rica’s hybrid government-private health care system provides comprehensive universal coverage to all residents — and even sells affordable policies to soon-to-be visitors like Limbaugh. 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.” At least a third of all Costa Rican residents receive some care in the private sector and the government regularly purchases services from private providers. The system is not without its problems, but it boasts a higher ranking from the World Health Organization — Costa Rica is 36, United States 37 — and has higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates. Costa Rica also spends less per capita on health care than the United States and insures almost all of its residents.
In fact, there is literally nowhere in the developed world Limbaugh can travel to receive market-driven medicine or escape “government intervention in health care.” Thus, his accidental endorsement of universal health reform and Palin’s admission that she had traveled to single-payer Canada for care, make for several curious conservative endorsements of greater government involvement in the health care system.