The system in Canada needs to be rebuilt somewhat. It has its issues mostly because the baby boomers are getting old now. And there are a shit ton of them. So the system gets packed in some areas and you get put on a waiting list. However those are for non life threatening things and so on.
I think that's the major issue down here as well. Unfortunately, the supplemental government-backed insurance (Medicare) that is meant for these folks is due to run out in 2026. My father will be 79 years old by then, but luckily he's a disabled veteran, so he gets his care through the Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics. The problem there is that they are constantly understaffed and never get enough money to expand to support all those who come. Mom will be on Medicare, though, and the government has been raiding that cookie jar (along with Social Security) hoping nobody would notice. Another thing I've noticed is that people are filling up the emergency rooms with silly things. I once sliced my arm with two nice gashes down to the fatty tissue (don't worry, I'm on different meds now) and found myself sitting in the ER waiting room with a t-shirt wrapped around it. I had to wait for someone to be administered Tylenol for their fever and told to go home before I was allowed back where I got to sit on a bench and wait for the doctor. I guess unless you're carted in on a gurney it wouldn't matter if I was carrying in my ass cheeks under each arm.
Now, onto the debate...
Let me dive into a little history that I learned through my research and understanding of how the U.S. got into this mess in the first place. Then I'll discuss why I don't think universal healthcare would work under the U.S. model, at least not without a few major renovations and housekeeping. If I get anything wrong, please add corrections and call me a "stupid shit-for-brains jackass" (like my ex-wife does, that bitch) or if you need clarification, feel free to ask.
The whole idea of insurance is not new, obviously. In the old days, prior to WW II, though, most doctors and hospitals worked on a cash basis. I imagine pricing was strictly on a demand/supply model. I also remember my father talking about how doctors would work for free since everyone was so freaking poor (my family is from the western part of North Carolina; Dad was born in 1947, always said his family and neighbors lived like they were in the 19th century and didn't live in a house that had indoor plumbing until he was about eight). When WW II came about and people were signing up to go abroad, there was a small problem. Wage freezes were put in place to keep employers from poaching people that were originally thinking about going into service. This created a labor shortage at home (this is where the women came in, but that's another topic). To compensate, employers started offering health insurance as part of the compensation package to its workers. This, and the introduction of Social Security Insurance, was the introduction.
In the United States, insurance companies are not allowed to operate across state lines, meaning that whatever state they are in incorporated in, they're "stuck" there. I think the original intent was to allow states to manage the rules for the insurance market, because if you're allowed to operate across the lines and cause a big stink, who is responsible for regulating that? So what happens is insurance companies set up shell companies in each state called "administrators." This sets up a two-fold problem:
1) If the state requires certain coverage, the carrier (insurance company) may not want to go that route, hence not set up shop in that state, and:
2) Different prices for people with "identical" backgrounds based on their location.
This is why there is supplemental insurance for people on Medicaid (Medicaid and Medicare are supposed to just cover the very least across-the-board necessities; Medicare is government-backed supplemental insurance for low-income families). Because of these stringent limitations, competition is severely limited, creating oligopolies. I'm not going to lie and say that there isn't some collusion going on behind closed doors. Now, because Medicare and Medicaid are funded by the government, they aren't exactly in a position to be as fluid as a private corporation is in terms of cost control and raising funds. That being said, they publish to each hospital/clinic how much they are willing to pay for a certain procedure. Now, take a guess where the hospital/clinic is going to look to help offset the difference since the government pays so little? You got it: people with insurance. This is why a lot of government-run hospitals (county and state) often shut down: there just simply isn't enough insurance folks to help offset the cost to keep the doors open. To make matters worse, insurance companies, in order to stay solvent, also often negotiate prices with the healthcare providers. For people that are without insurance, one of two things happen:
1) The hospital, through the aid of a social worker, signs the individual up for Medicare/Medicaid (whatever they fall under), or, if they do not meet the qualifications for either:
2) Are put upon a payment plan with the hospital.
A few months ago I read about the increasing support of "cash-only" doctor's offices and clinics, including surgical. By bypassing insurance altogether, people were able to shop around for the lowest-cost provider, using what money they would spend on premiums and deductibles and getting treatment. For a long time, this was how I operated before I went to university and got a job that had insurance. Prior to that I worked in retail (this was 2001-2005) and paid cash for any medical treatment that I needed.
However, it seems that Obama and his associates wanted to eliminate that with the advent of "Obamacare" in that you are charged a tax if you fail to maintain insurance.
The idea of Obamacare is just like the idea of Social Security Insurance. SSI was to allow older folks to leave the workforce and not starve to death and would be funded by the younger working class paying into it, creating a cycle. In other words, money that is supposed to be there for those who draw wages legally (not under the table) are intended to be able to draw from the fund upon retirement in conjunction with any retirement fund that they have. Oh yes, if you think that you have a right to your Social Security payments, think again. In this case, younger folks purchase plans through the exchanges that do not have a plan through their employer. Because younger people are less prone to need long-term care like the older folks, the money they put in is used to support those who are utilizing the system now. At least, that's what I and several others have deduced.
Make no mistake: this was a law written by the insurance companies for the insurance companies. By forcing people to purchase insurance, it has created an instant demand market for the insurance companies. At least, that's what the government and those who wrote it may be banking on. The fact of the matter is that many people may balk at the high premiums, even higher deductibles, and just choose to pay the tax instead.
Now, for why I don't think universal, government-funded healthcare could work in the U.S. is simple: elected leaders here have the Midas touch of Shit. That is, everything they get their hands on turns into a big, steaming pile of shit. Take the postal service: it's an entity that is run like a business, yet it cannot make business decisions without congressional approval. The last time I saw congress move at any pace is when they're voting to give themselves raises (or shoving bills up our asses saying "You have to pass it to see what's in it!"). I just feel that because of this, a truly socialistic healthcare model is not feasible. Now, if it were implemented at the state level, there might be hope for that. State governments have a lot more sudden-impact, especially when someone screws up.
My overall opinion is this: I think a great way to reduce healthcare costs is to give people an incentive to help others. I know that sounds mean, but let's face it: people are naturally selfish. I propose that we Americans do what a lot of states do to fund their education: lotteries. The money these things raise in a hurry are astronomical. While it may or may not work, at least it's something! And I didn't need sixteen days to come up with it, either.