Category Archives: Rant

Colonoscopy and Other Shit

(I know. I’m still ruminating about Costa Rica even though we’ve moved on. This is more of a rant on how broken the US medical system is.)

People sometimes ask us how we decide where we’re going. In the case of our January trip to Costa Rica, the motivation was an airfare credit with JetBlue that just had to be spent before November. As it turns out, I needed to have a crown replaced and since we had to go somewhere, we thought we’d try Costa Rica for dentistry which I’d heard was excellent and inexpensive.

A crown replacement in Florida runs approximately $1500 plus whatever little extras the dentist can tack on, like x-rays and sterilization fees. Upon the recommendation of expat friends who live there, I made an appointment with Dr Alexander Mora in Escazù. This fine doctor replaced my crown for a total of $375. This was total price, inclusive of a x-ray and cleaning up the cavity that had started under the crown.

A web fare for JetBlue from Florida to Costa Rica might be as low as $400 round trip. Yes, that means that the cost of an airline ticket plus the crown is less than half the price of the same crown in the United States.

Still don’t think the medical system in the US is completely broken? I have more.

Doctors recommend that everyone get a colonoscopy at age 50 and then ten years later if the first one is clean. A colonoscopy in the US costs around $4,000. Under Obamacare, medical insurance is supposed to provide a free one at the recommended interval.

I scheduled my regular diagnostic colonoscopy when we were still living in Fort Lauderdale. The doctor, who was an hour and a half behind schedule and talking on his cell phone in the procedure room, couldn’t finish the operation. This, after horrible preparation and wasting the greater part of the day at the hospital. He had no excuse; just said that the instrument would only go about ten percent of the way. Then he tried to sell me a barium enema.

Considering that the test wasn’t done, I tried to get another one from a different doctor. The insurance company claimed that since I’d already had one, I’d have to pay for the second one.

Deena suggested I get my test done in Costa Rica because we were going there anyway. It seemed like less hassle than taking the insurance company to court.

I scheduled a colonoscopy for our first week in Costa Rica. The receptionist didn’t speak much English but the doctor did. It was way more efficient. We walked over to the hospital endoscopy clinic in the morning and were out having a delicious coffee in two hours. They gave me a printed report with internal pictures, and were even nice enough to email me the pdf at my request since we’re now paperless.

The cost of the procedure? $380.22 Yes, that’s right: You could fly to Costa Rica, be tested and have a five-star vacation with the remaining $3200 and still not spend as much as the US medical system would like you to pay.

Don’t get me started.

 

Costa Rica Rant

Tico Rico,Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.15.30 AMEco this Eco that,

Justo Gusto, Coco Loco, Coco Loco  Pura Vida,

Early morning howlers, Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.18.22 AM

Bird feeder fights, enterprising tourismo entrepreneurs, warm humid embrace, cloud forest downpours, majestic mountains, lush valleys, cute coati armies, warm breezes, “always use sunscreen”,

Industrious leaf-cutting ants that can spell . . . .Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.38.48 AM

Panderias, Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.35.54 AM licoreras, pulperias,
Let sleeping dogs lie, Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.36.50 AM

Baldi hot springs ahhhhhhh!!
Naked light bulbs, no-kickplate cabinets

Free mini-Tabacon hot springs only Ticos know mini Tabacon

Bus-eating potholes, potholes

Treacherous sidewalks,  no straight level roads,  no end of lane warnings – crash,  no speed bump warnings – boom,

Earthquake shocks, earchquake tremors

(Well maybe a bit exaggerated), stolen sandals, ripe starfruit, tourists everwhere!!, single plantation micro coffee roasters, broken English, broken Spanish, volcanic sands,
Surf bodies,  
surf competition

Tasty tabbouleh & fattoush (not quite as good as Ivan’s)

McDonalds McCafe almost acceptable, Mac cafe

Jungle Jam, Medical exam

 

Xenophobia

Xenophobia: n., an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers, or of that which is foreign or strange

I recently read an article called “20 Things I’ve Learned From Traveling Around the World” by a young man from the U.S. that spent an entire year traveling. What shocked me the most was that the author’s first point in the story was that “most of the world’s people are friendly and decent.”

I’m not shocked that most of the world’s people are friendly and decent. To the contrary, Deena and I believe that nearly everyone everywhere is in fact, not only decent and friendly, but downright open, warm and loving. What shocks me is that this young man didn’t already know that. What disturbed me is that this was the first or most important lesson learned. It’s a very sad commentary on the citizens of the United States that the first thing a young traveler learns is that people around the world are actually not monsters; that people around the world can be approached with a smile, not fear.

controlroomCoincidentally, we just happened to watch the documentary Control Room a few days later. This is a documentary about the arabic al-Jazeerah news station and it’s coverage of the Iraqi war. Al-Jazeerah tried to be everything that Fox News falsely claims to be – fair and balanced. The al-Jazeerah coverage of the Iraqi war was so fair that it aliented both the U.S. and some Arabic governments. Neither side wanted the media to air the truth, or dissenting opinions.

Al-Jazeerah’s position aside, the documentary goes a long way toward explaining this xenophobia of U.S. citizens. Everyday, we are brainwashed by the media and the politicians. Every day, if we watch our own TV news, we are bombarded by propaganda that foreigners are monsters to be feared. To me, that movie clearly explains why a young man growing up in this country would be surprised that people all over the world are actually decent and friendly. He watched TV.

The truth is that governments are the monsters in the room. Slightly less than 3000 people died in the attack on the Twin Towers. President Bush sent 4500 more U.S. citizens to their death in retaliation. American news media was blocked from seeing the dead soldiers brought home. The U.S. directed a bombing attack on al-Jazeerah offices, killing a journalist and wounding another staff, because the news station wouldn’t publish U.S. propaganda. Killing a journalist. This from a country that supposedly respects free speech and condemns violence against innocent people.

Everyone in the world understands the language of a smile
Everyone in the world understands a smile

Nearly 1.5 million Iraqis died because of the U.S. invasion. I’m pretty sure most of those people would be decent and friendly in different circumstances. I would like to think that, as a race, we’ve evolved above petty, tribal warfare. I would like to think that, but I don’t see it yet.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” (Mark Twain)