My first free prescription!

Waiting in line for my “free” prescription
at the local government Clinica Farmacia.
The right line is to give them the prescription & left to pick it up.
Depending on work load, 1 to 3 hours wait. I just left and returned later.

My local private doctor diagnosed me with heart arrhythmia and through an expensive private cardiologist in San Jose I was given an expensive beta blocker at about 60-80 bucks a month. My local private primary care doc found a generic version at about half that price, but I talked to my government primary care doctor anyway. As reported earlier, he sent me to a cardiologist at the Alajuela Hospital where I would go with emergency heart problems on the government plan. And the really nice, 30-something cardiologist checked me out and said he could give be a prescription at no cost but it would be different from what the private doctor gave me (a 3rd brand of beta blocker). It is Atenolol and after researching it online I discovered that it is the most used med for arrhythmia in the U.S. or all around the world right now. So I am just now experiencing one of my big savings through CAJA, the government health plan.

As I think I explained earlier, I am keeping my foot in both doors “just in case” because some hospitalizations, surgeries, or other procedures have long waits in the government program unless an emergency. i.e. Hospital Alajuela will be my government hospital where I have a cardiologist already. Next Monday I have a consultation at Hospital Metropolitano San Jose which will be my private hospital of choice when the public hospital is not available. I joined a discount program with them and will save up to 80% off many services there compared to other private hospitals. At my age, regular private insurance is just too expensive, so this is my self-made plan and I plan to use the public services as much as possible as in this case with heart medication, but if needed, I have a private option that I hopefully can afford. 
When you are an immigrant in another country, it takes time to get all the details worked out. But it feels good when you do!  🙂

And after stirring up people on Facebook with a comment about Trump, I’m going to stay focused on BEING an immigrant and not telling people how to solve the immigrant problems in the states!  🙂

Getting Reimbursed for Medical Expenses

The private medical services insurance here is mostly through a government program called INS, a Spanish language acrostic. I finally completed the piles of paperwork with doctor signatures and original receipts (No photo copies! One of my claims was disqualified for this reason.) I mailed them to my insurance agent who got them to INS and I received an email pretty quickly telling me what was accepted and how much they would pay me with an electronic deposit in my local bank account when they received the account number. (I added to the time here by at first sending the wrong number dummy me!) When I finally got that right they informed me that since I still don’t have official residency yet, they could not auto deposit but I could come to an INS office or my agent. My agent requires 15 days, so I opted to go to INS somewhere close other than in San Jose. Alajuela is the closest and I went today and even with one problem, I completed the task within two hours! That is could! The problem was that my agent gave me the wrong address or directions to the office in Alajuela and I wasted one taxi fare ($2) in the wrong place. When I got to the right office, a typical government office with guards and take a number and wait until they call it to be served. It was surprisingly quick with only three employees needed to complete my task and they paid me in cash!

That is likely the last/only time I will do that since I canceled my expensive policy. I’m waiting to receive the government coverage after my residency is approved. Hoping that will start happening this Friday the 13th when my attorney appeals! Ironic? Probably! But I’m not superstitious!

And by the way, this experience today continues to strengthen the motivation to learn to speak AND understand Spanish. It is necessary to live here! 

Whats a VPN?

What is a VPN? It stands for Virtual Private Network and the link is to a detailed Wikipedia definition. But the short answer and why I would want one here is to “trick” the internet to thinking I am in the United States instead of Costa Rica when I surf the web, and particularly when I use my digital download subscription to Netflix. The movie producers in Hollywood (not Netflix) won’t let a movie be shown in a country unless it is licensed for that country. Most that I’m interested in are not licensed yet for Costa Rica.

So I have a subscription to My Expat Network which means I can get anything from Netflix that I could get in Tennessee. Funny thing is that I hardly use it because I’m too busy enjoying real life in this neat new country. But I will probably use it more in rainy season and it is good feeling to “be connected.” There are other reasons like security and limiting some marketing efforts over the internet, but Netflix was my main reason to get a VPN.

I get same movie titles available in the states with a VPN internet connection.
Including a lot of junk! But I have more choices this way. 

UPDATE: VPN No Longer Works Here for Me!

Netflix somehow detected I was using one and knocked me down to their fewer titles Costa Rica version. At first I just canceled them, then decided it was still better than paying for TV channels here which I no longer subscribe to. And rarely watch Netflix now, though I like some of their nature documentaries.

And here’s a video someone asked me to add here:

¡Pura Vida!