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The Pain in Spain

Posted Nov 27 2007 12:00am

An SU Abroad participant’s encounter with the Majorcan healthcare system
By Adria Saracino

Snap. That’s the sound of your picturesque study abroad experience fading into a dream, while the harsh reality of dealing with a foreign healthcare system floods in. That’s what happened to Brendan O’Neil, a Syracuse University student studying abroad this fall in Madrid.

One night, while on a study tour to Majorca with SU Abroad, his foot got caught in a gap between two cobblestones while he was running and he sprained his ankle.

He went to a hospital in Majorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. When he arrived, he was forced to wait for over an hour and had to pay $500 upfront. There was an ATM in the waiting room for this purpose.

“It was a very uncomfortable situation because I had to pay so much upfront. I didn’t know the language and it was very impersonable,” O’Neil recalls. “They didn’t even tell me what I needed to know and there was no second opinion. It was all rush, rush, rush.”

Spain provides universal healthcare coverage to its citizens, which is publicly financed and managed by its regional governments, according to the European Network of Mobility Centers’ website.

Even though it caused a dent in his wallet, O’Neil prefers the Spanish healthcare system to that of the United States.

“The healthcare is atrocious if you are impoverished or lower class [in the US],” Brendan says. “Money speaks loudly in the US system, something I don’t believe to be the same in Spain. I think a similar version to the Spanish system would benefit the US greatly, but it really depends on the amount of effort our government puts into developing it.”

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