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March 12, 2010


"the media did pretty much ignore Palin's explanation of what the phrase meant"

Another common complaint, the most recent example being Rush Limbaugh leaving the country for Costa Rica.

It works this way:

1) Conservative icon says something silly and easily parodied.

2) It's parodied and exposed as utterly silly.

3) Conservative icon blames the media for misunderstanding what they really meant.

It works sometimes, but most of the time, it's just tiresome.

Some Limbaugh critics are blasting him for proposing to get his medical care in Costa Rica if Health Reform passes, even though Costa Rica has socialized medicine. However, Costa Rica is very popular for medical tourism. The Christian Science Monitor explains:

Limbaugh’s choice may also serve to advertise what many Americans traveling here for medical treatment already know: Costa Rica is a fabulous place for medical tourism....

But the Cadillac-style private hospitals at Chevy Aveo prices are what really draw 25,000 Americans to Costa Rica every year.

“People travel to Costa Rica (and) receive the same quality of medical services for a fraction of the cost,” said Jorge Cortés, president of the Council for International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine and medical director of Hospital Biblica, one of three internationally-accredited private hospitals in Costa Rica. “When people see they can get the same surgery for three or four times less, they decide to get medical care abroad.”

Lower labor costs and fewer malpractice suits keep the prices down here.


Was Limbaugh just lucky that his Costa Rica comment could be interpreted as reasonable, or was he intentionally alluding to that country's outstanding private medical services? Evidently his critics assume the former.

It's probably not only the lower labor costs and fewer malpractice suits that keep the cost of medical care in Costa Rica low. It's also that travelers are paying the costs out of their own pockets. That's also been a big factor in keeping the cost of Lasik surgery and botox treatments from growing at the pace of insurance-covered treatments.

Instead of giving patients more skin in the game and getting them to care about the cost of their medical care, the Administration's health care proposals would require more first-dollar coverage. The result of course is to undermine the ability of free market competition to bring down the cost of medical care, Costa Rica style.

"If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn." - Walt Williams

Recent proclamations by U.S. politicians and media personalities, proclaiming medical treatment to be a RIGHT, may result not only in medical tourism, but in a "brain drain", as productive individuals shop the globe for nations that allow them to keep their earnings. The flight of businesses and business owners from California, to Texas and Tennessee, provide a small-scale example.

Regarding Death Panels, the point I wish Walsh had made is the uncovered story of how government health care will actually work when money inevitably gets tight.

I just made a substantial donantion to my grandchildren's public elementary school, because they don't have enough money to operate as they should. They're planning to cut all music and sports. Heaven knows whether the donations will be adequate to continue these programs.

Similarly, government health programs in other countries are dealing with less funds than they could use. The reality of Health Reform will be different from the ideal that has been presented. Death panels may not become part of the Plan, but we can expect something far from ideal.

Andrew Breitbart is a sensationalist kook.

Incidentally, I would reiterate the point that nobody knows whether Death Panels or anything else will be a part of Health Reform, because it's not finalized. E.g., If six months ago, Sarah Palin had claimed that Health Reform would include a federal takeover of the student loan program, she would have been called a liar. Yet, that now seems to be the case.

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