$2 million goes to workers helping terminally ill

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

About $2 million was paid by the Costa Rican social security fund in 2016 to salaried workers who took care of sick people facing terminal illnesses.

In total, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social granted 7,927 subsidies in that whole year, averaging 660 licenses per month. The average monthly cost of these subsidies is about $170,000.

The benefit is granted to any salaried worker who wishes to take care of a terminally ill person, relative or not. This license should be requested by the patient or a caregiver in case the patient is unable to.

After the issuance of a medical certification, the patient or the caregiver should approach a medical branch of the Caja and request the benefit. This license should be renewed every 30 days by the examining doctor.

The worker who will take care of the patient should have paid their social security dues during the last three consecutive months to obtain the benefit.

“This benefit has made a difference in a lot of peoples lives. It’s a humane approach to deal with patients who are suffering and those who care for them,” said Arnoldo León, director of the monetary benefits unit at the Caja.

The subsidy is calculated according to the last pay stub of the worker.

If the worker’s earnings do not exceed more than two minimum salaries, he will receive 100 percent of his or her check.

If the salary exceeds two minimum ones but less than three, the worker will be paid 80 percent.

Those above three minimum salaries will get a 60 percent subsidy.

“Employers are already fully aware of this license and they are able to make an online track of the worker’s status and if the patient he or she is taking care of passes away or recovers,” said León.

In most cases, the patient is taken care of by relatives he explained.

The money for these subsidies comes from Fondo de Desarrollo Social y Asignaciones Familiares, a social program which is funded by automatically deducted contributions from employers and employees.

These subsidies were established by law in 1993, however, there is still a large population that is not aware of its existence, according to León.

“We do information campaigns to let people know about this right. We have a similar benefit for the parents or caregivers of seriously ill children, It’s all part of a coordinated effort to assist the most vulnerable populations,” said Léon.

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