Having just visited Sweden and other countries in the region, and heard about their health system first-hand, I am reminded that our system is different because we as Americans have different expectations. We expect more from our health care system but paradoxically we do not want to pay higher taxes.
Think about your typical American; they want answers in real time. In Canada and Sweden consumers have to wait for everything from a visit to a specialist to test results. That same approach would be unacceptable in the U.S. and might even be considered malpractice in some instances.
More to the point is that in the United States we made the decision in 1965 to provide a level of health care to persons over 65 regardless of income that is unheard of in most other countries. We care for older folks. All this makes our American health care system, with all its flaws, operate under a different set of values and constraints; the comparison to some of these other national health plans is useless and too often misguided. And it’s an important distinction to make as a new Congress and Administration will take up health care reform and policy wonks start declaring that the grass is greener in Canada and Sweden.