Caja ordered to reduce the wait times for patients

The nation’s public medical system, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, is well known for its slow attendance of patients’ needs.

Wednesday the Sala IV Constitutional court stepped into the situation and ordered the Caja to come up and execute a plan to cut down the wait time within a year.

Many expats now belong to the Caja because this is a requirement of residency.

The Poder Judicial announced the Sala IV decision, but it did not outline the particular appeal on which the Caja acted. The suggestion was that the Caja issued the order to correct the general situation and that the decision was far broader than the individual case required.

The Sala IV ordered the Caja to reduce waiting times to reasonable periods. That includes work by specialists and pathologists, the Poder Judicial said.

There was a recent scandal in which material submitted for analysis to pathologists had been stored for months in plastic bags. These are samples and physicians need to know the results of tests that may show patients have, for example, cancer.

At the Caja most patients have to wait in line to obtain an appointment and then wait at another time to be attended for the appointment. There have been a number of surprising revelations from the Caja over the years, such as the pregnant woman who was given an appointment for an ultrasound a year later.

Contrary to what many expats think, the Caja is not universal health care.  An individual becomes affiliated with the Caja as an employee of a company or by making individual payments. However, emergency cases, including those of tourists, and those of children always get attention.

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