Caja cites enormous independent workers debt

Talk about a collection problem. The national health service reported this week that independent workers owe the institution 138 billion colons, about $260 million.

The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social has a special category for the self-employed that includes real estate brokers, small business people, door-to-door salespeople, crafts people and similar. These are the self-employed, who still are required to affiliate with the Caja. They are called trabajadores independientes.

The Caja said there are 144,309 persons in this category who are behind in their payments. That represents 45 percent of independent workers, it said.

The Caja also said that the percentage has spiked recently. Luis Diego Calderón, director of collections, was quoted in a release saying that those individuals who are behind in payments face fines and interest charges but that the Caja is willing to work with them to eliminate the debt.

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