I was sick as a dog when we first got to CR. Upon landing and getting a (highly recommended) car rental-- We stayed at Costa Blanca (Guanacaste Playa Hermosa near Playa Panama--excellent), we went to Liberia to the strip mall and to the Pharmacy. My Spanish is pretty good and most medical terms are universal. I told the Pharmacist I had an upper respiratory infection, possibly pneumonia--did he have some Zithromax. He didn't but gave me a pack of Clarithromycin and some Tylenol#3. It was about $20 for all and I felt tons better within 24 hours. It was so nice not to have to play the doctor games we do here in the US. Just go in, talk to the Pharmacist, bypass the doctor fees and get your medicine in 3 minutes flat!
I heard the 20 bed hospital in Liberia was very professional for a guy who got in a car accident a long time ago. They saw him right away, did the tests, patched him up and he was finished with pennies to pay.
Life expectency is higher in Costa Rica than in the US for a reason: It's not a money-driven healthcare system. People rarely get sick and when they do, the Pharmacist can cut the process to just a few minutes. The hospitals are rapid without all the North American waiting for signing tons of forms, insurance authorization and the typical 12 hour Emergency Room wait. In Costa Rica, you're seen immediately, taken care of and on your way. If you're sick, they want to get you better as soon as possible with no red tape. Many North Americans fly down to CR for their healthcare--cheaper to pay them in cash then deal with ridiculous insurance denials, large copays and red tape--or doctors bribed by drug companies to prescribe something they want you to have versus what you think would help. In Costa Rica, you make the recommendations, they give their professional opinion and you both come to an agreement in lightening speed to get you on your way. No such thing as waiting rooms for healthcare. If you're there, they assume you want to be seen right away and get on with your life.
There is so little red tape with all their governmental control that as soon as I can; I'm moving there!