- Category: The Nation
- Published on Thursday, May 17 2012 01:40
- Written by Rod Hughes
- Hits: 516
More bad news has surfaced for the country's universal health care industry: A recent study reveals that hospitals and clinics in the Social Security (Caja) system are falling apart and need over a billion dollars to repair.
Some 70% of Caja facilities are classified as from "moderate to bad" condition and will require some $1,164,000 to bring up to acceptAble condition. But the Caja barely scraped through last year with a one-time government grant.
President Laura Chinchilla warned the Caja then that the government could not afford another such transfusion of money. Despite efforts to cut back services and restrict overtime, the agency is still hemorrhaging money. (See previous articles.)
To a large part, the Caja suffered massive wage hikes during the Arias Administration (2006-10) when an open-handed director and board of directors made some disastrous decisions. Inflation and incompetence added to the costs since then.
The report comes as no surprise. Reports have trickled out for decades of operating rooms being closed due to leaks during the rainy season and other infrastructure defects.
But it is not only hospitals that have suffered wear and tear-- the report by a team on infrastructure and technology headed by Gabriela Murrillo says that $75 million is needed to bring metropolitan-area clinics back up to snuff.
Another $86 million is needed in other health care areas. The rest is needed to cover infrastructure defects in hospitals all over the country. Of the thousands of square meters of hospital space in the country, only an estimated 12% is in good condition.
The question is, where will the money come from" The Caja is faced with a squeeze: the workforce is growing rapidly older and paying fewer funds as workers retire and consume services rather than contribute to them.
At the same time the birth rate has dropped so that fewer fund contributors are paying into the system. The last census showed the birth rate was 0.9 children per woman. Unlike women in many Third World and especially Catholic countries, Ticas are opting for small families.