San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Traffic Accident Victims Tax Health-Care System

The 60 victims of traffic accidents who show up in Costa Rica’s public hospitals every day are proving costly for the country’s health-care system – to the tune of $50,000 a day.

The daily La Nación reported that the bill for attending the tens of thousands of victims of traffic accidents last year in Costa Rica, for injuries ranging from broken bones to hemorrhages, was almost $19 million.

Traffic accidents rank as the most common reason to enter the hospital, above hypertension, work injuries, dengue and domestic violence. In some hospitals, traffic victims occupy up to 40% of the beds, the daily reported. And Social Security System (Caja) hospitals aren’t the only ones coughing up the money: the Red Cross spends between $40-80 on each traffic accident to which it responds.

Nonetheless, the transit law reform that the Arias administration presented in the Legislative Assembly nine months ago, which would crack down on reckless and drunk driving with tougher fines, among other reforms, has yet to be voted on (TT, Aug. 25, 2006, July 20).


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