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Caja for Pensianados

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codefinger
7/19/2019 19:06 EST

Considering a move to Costa Rica as a Pensionado and I am a little confused about CAJA. My first understanding is that unless I am a legal resident, I am not eligible. Under the Pensionado program, I cannot apply to become a permanent resident for three years, so that sounds like I could not get CAJA for three years. But something else I read said that to become a Pensionado I MUST apply for CAJA. So I am a little confused about this. I guess my question is, are TEMPORARY residents (who plan to become permanent) eligible for CAJA?

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Kohl
7/19/2019 20:29 EST

Yes, you will be able to access CAJA after your have received your cedula for temporary residency. It will be at least 4 years after applying for your initially (temporary) residency to obtain Permanent residency.

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ILuvCR
7/19/2019 22:20 EST

CAJA membership is a requisite for residency. It's a little confusing about the actual timing but they go hand in hand. You must be a resident to qualify for CAJA and you must have CAJA to become a resident.


You'll become a "residente temporal" for at least three years, I think and then you may request a change to "permanente"

"CAMBIO DE CATEGORÍA:

Foreigners who enjoy a legal stay in Costa Rica and can change their immigration status are the following:
Temporary resident and with three years of having his DIMEX up to date.
Temporary resident by spouse and who has renewed his DIMEX consecutively for three years.
Refugee, asylee or stateless with three years of having recognized that condition.
Person with a special category who has a Costa Rican son or daughter or with a Costa Rican spouse.

Pura Vida!

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peter2017
7/20/2019 01:08 EST

You will be paying caja as soon as you get a decision that your residency has been approved.

Your first caja payment will be before you receive your cedula.

I am not sure if during renewal of permanent residency you need to show caja payments, but for temporary residency renewal you will need to show caja payments for all months you have been in the country.

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peter2017
7/20/2019 01:13 EST

Btw, it looks like the “permanent residency” does not mean permanent like in the rest of the world. It is pretty much the same as temporary except it is for 3 years and you can work in CR. Like anyone cares.

The only way to become a permanent resident is to become a citizen.

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ILuvCR
7/20/2019 07:59 EST

peter, "Like anyone cares."?

The people who want to work legally care.

Pura Vida!

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peter2017
7/20/2019 10:13 EST

ILuvCR,

I don’t get it, why would you want to? The pay sucks royally.

Just about any job in your home country pays better.

Do you want to start business in CR? Security, bureaucracy and workers’ rights will kill your business before you start.

CR is not the country to make your money legally.

Anyway, that was not the point of this thread.

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princzz
7/20/2019 18:00 EST

No....you MUST apply for and pay LaCAJA or your Pensionado status will be removed and, you CAN'T receive or renew your ID.

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Kohl
7/20/2019 21:30 EST

If you do not pay your monthly premium, on time, know that you will NOT be attended to at your local clinic, even just a day late. Then you must go to the local office to pay up...

And yes, once a permanent resident, you are still required to play by these rules...and produce a paper receipt, if asked for although they can view it on their computer. However I suggest you keep a print out as some facilities, do 'insist' on them.

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blschultz
7/23/2019 17:26 EST

Caja is a requirement for any type of residency, including temporary. If you apply as a pensianado, it is much less expensive than other types of residencies.

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Kohl
7/23/2019 21:24 EST

While the premium is usually less for someone with Pensionado status, it will rise significantly if you are in receipt of a large pension.

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Drneuro100
7/23/2019 21:46 EST

How mich less? We could have applied as pensionista but chose rentista as we dont want to collect our Social Security until 70.

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lindyluvsCR
7/23/2019 21:58 EST

Kohl, in your opinion, what amount would be considered a large pension?

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peter2017
7/23/2019 23:57 EST

drneuro100,

A 2 year income base for pensionado is 24k, for rentista it is 60k, so you’ll pay roughly twice as much in caja premiums when you apply as a rentista.

I am 53 and I applied as a rentista and my caja premium is about $205/month.

In the end it does not matter, you’ll not use the caja system for anything but emergencies or drugs. For diagnostics or serious operation you will be using the private system anyway or fly back to your home country.

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Kohl
7/24/2019 09:30 EST

Not all potential expats will use SS when applying for Pensionado residency, but will/could use a private pension, and this will probably be higher than some of us will ever get.

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Kohl
7/24/2019 09:46 EST

In regards to not using CAJA for anything except emergencies or drugs...meaning prescribed meds... many expats do/would use it for many chronic illnesses including cancer treatment. This may include transportation from the front door of their home in Guanacaste or Limon, to Hospital Mexico as often is necessary.

Just because, at this time in your life you do not intend use it, do not presume you will not in the future. Unfortunately, things happen that you wouldn't wish on anyone.

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carolvaughn
7/24/2019 09:54 EST

Well said, as always Kohl. So many people come to CR to live a sort of extended vacation, but
reality can come crashing down
like a ton of bricks. Often that
involves issues of health. Best to
have ALL the arrows in your quiver, Caja being an important
One. We are Lucky to have them.

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peter2017
7/24/2019 11:00 EST

Kohl,

If me or my wife would get some serious illness such as cancer, we would just go back to Canada for treatment. Why would any Canadian would want to be treated in CR? It makes no sense for Canadians.

Maintain both residencies, use CR for their weather and their beaches, use Canada for everything else (investments, health care, shopping etc)

No need to severe all ties to your home country.

Public health care system in Canada is better than the public health care system here in CR, don’t you agree?

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lindyluvsCR
7/24/2019 12:16 EST

Yes you will begin paying for caja as soon as approval, but can receive temporary residence within 2 weeks.

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Kohl
7/24/2019 12:41 EST

From what I've seen, there are long waiting lists for treatment too, at least here in BC...plus you would need to wait 3 months anyway, to be seen by a local doctor, then you would have to wait for a referral to see a specialist. I have been waiting for 5 months for a referral for an EN&T.

Many expats cannot afford two residences, especially those on a budget...although I presume you mean their Costa Rican resident status. And if the own their home, what do they do if they can't sell it quickly?

I'm not saying that CAJA always provides adequate and timely services, but you seem to put down Costa Rica every chance you get.


Remember too, that not only Canadians use this forum.

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shermanwc
7/24/2019 13:01 EST

It is not necessarily true that "In the end it does not matter, you’ll not use the Caja system for anything but emergencies or drugs. "

I have used the Caja system for regular health checkups, including blood and urine testing, as well as for prescription meds. (However, my wife does not use the Caja system, as she prefers not to try to communicate with doctors in Spanish.)

We do not use Caja for emergencies or non-routine healthcare. The Caja hospital in our area is not considered to be reliable for emergencies and there are often delays in getting treatment. We use local clinics that have English speaking doctors for non-routine care. We have international health insurance for hospital coverage (WEA).

It is not easy to get a clear picture of the quality of healthcare in different areas of CR. In general, it is better in San Jose than in more rural areas.

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peter2017
7/24/2019 14:57 EST

Kohl,

Hmm, looks like you are better off getting your treatments in CR.

What is the wait time for ultrasound, CT or PET scans here in CR?

Sorry, I did not mean for expats to buy residences in both countries. Just keep the one you have in Canada, just downsize to some small condo in a small city.

I would not advise anyone buying any real estate anywhere in Latin or South America. That is just insane, especially if you have limited resources.

I keep my options open, I might go and live for few months in Hawaii or Florida. If I like it I will get a green card and relocate there.

As for CR, well, it is a third world country and it will stay that way for foreseeable future. That is just the way it is.

If you have the means, get your critical treatments elsewhere. If you don’t, well, your options are limited.

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Kohl
7/24/2019 17:07 EST

A potential Canadian expat cannot, as a non-resident for tax purposes, keep a home, vehicle etc, in Canada.

We did get treatments after going to a private facility for a diagnosis and once in the system, there was not usually a long wait.. However, there are a lot of people who have to wait a really long time, if they have to first wait for a referral .

My problem is not serious, just a nuisance, which I thought all the years we lived in Costa Rica that I was hearing the noise produced by the nearby hydroelectric plant at the neighboring volcano, and then after a couple of months I realized, no, there is no volcano here...

Just this morning friends invited me to go once again, to their place in Florida, but I am still thinking about it. Tomorrow I head to Edmonton for a few days, so I am not sitting around...but hopefully the weather there is better than here.

I will say once again, that the care provided by the CAJA staff to my 'better half' while undergoing chemo etc, was wonderful, as was their commitment to me.

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PombinhaCoco7
7/25/2019 09:45 EST

Hi Peter 2017
We know each other and I know my husband spoke to you and your family the other day.
Peter, in my case, should I have cancer again (God forbid) I couldn't go back to Canada for treatment.
Actually I just had a medical test through Caja to confirm that "that ugly thing" hasn't come back.
I'm waiting for the results.
While I was living there I had free medical care but now since I'm no longer a resident I have lost it.
Many Canadians live here and the Canadian Government doesn't even know about them.
We applied to be expats and the Canadian Government knows that we live in Costa Rica even though we keep a Canadian adress (my daughter's home)
So we no longer have a house in Canada and we don't have private insurance. We used to have it (partially) while my husband was working supplied by the company he worked for.
When I had the cancer operations in 2014 I even had a free private room at the hospital in Toronto (Saint Joseph's Hospital) and as you know I didn't have to pay anything for the operation.
Here I have been taken by ambulance once to the Filadelfia Clinic through Caja.
However I paid for my ultra sound at San Rafael Hospital in Liberia since I would have to wait for 3 years for one at the Public Hospital.
Anyway, going back to Canada for medical care is NOT an option to us.

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peter2017
7/25/2019 11:39 EST

Maria I wish you a speedy recovery.

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PombinhaCoco7
7/25/2019 14:54 EST

Hi Peter,
I am OK now (I think)
This is just to finish the 5 year period that doctors suggest that we may be observed and tested once a year.
We also use Caja for all the urine and blood tests every 6 months electrocardiograms once a year, my mammograms. and for our regular prescribed medication such as for high blood pressure.
The people working at the Caja Clinic are very nice.

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PombinhaCoco7
7/25/2019 14:59 EST

Kohl,
I hope you are doing well.
Yes, I've heard from tourists that even in Ontario things are changing and that even for ultra sounds they have to wait for a while.
I was surprised because even when I got back from Costa Rica to Toronto in 2016 I was able to get an appointment for a mammogram for the following day.
I was so tired that I asked them if I could wait until the following week.
I had 3 ultrasounds in the same week
at the Humber Hospital in Toronto to search for a blood clot that I fortunately didn't have.
It was just erythema after my trip to Hawaii.

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PombinhaCoco7
7/25/2019 16:02 EST

Correction
Actually I had Erythema Nodusan after a bad reaction to penicillin.
However when I went to Hawaiii what I got was Edema (swollen feet, ankles and legs).

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princzz
7/26/2019 09:45 EST

The CAJA will be based on your reported income, assets, expenses and family members. Pensionado cedula requirement is $1000 per person/family member, and is about 11.3% of your reported income. From there, the CAJA agent will ask other questions of income, expenses, etc , and get your final cost.

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