I was going to point to the Reid piece, but DougJ did the work for me. Reid, you may recall, reported the excellent Frontline documentary Sick Around the World, which you should watch if you have not already.
This piece, by T. R. Reid, does a pretty good job of dispelling right-wing myths about the horrors of health care in the rest of the first world. This kind of thing just breaks your heart as an American:
In Japan, waiting times are so short that most patients don’t bother to make an appointment. One Thursday morning in Tokyo, I called the prestigious orthopedic clinic at Keio University Hospital to schedule a consultation about my aching shoulder. “Why don’t you just drop by?” the receptionist said. That same afternoon, I was in the surgeon’s office. Dr. Nakamichi recommended an operation. “When could we do it?” I asked. The doctor checked his computer and said, “Tomorrow would be pretty difficult. Perhaps some day next week?”
It’s almost hard for me to believe this kind of thing, but I’ve seen it first-hand. When I was in France with my parents a few summers ago, my dad had a nasty flu and was afraid he might need medical attention if he didn’t improve soon. We called up and were told that a doctor could stop by the next morning if he still felt bad.
And we pay over 50% more per person for health care than Japan or France.