Medicare is an old system. It was incorporated in the 1960's when healthcare needs and expectations were different. There were fewer chronic illnesses and the population was younger. Medicare hasn't changed much since the 1960's, so it's beginning to show its age by trying to meet the needs of an older population with more chronic diseases.
But the belief "those who need immediate help don't get it because they have to wait" is a complete misconception. In fact, Medicare works best when someone needs immediate help. Medicare was designed for rapid treatment of acute conditions.
It's the combination of a system designed to primarily treat acute conditions and universal access that cause most of Medicare's wait times. Healthcare is rationed by need, not cost, and the entire population has access to every aspect of the healthcare system. So, those with life-threatening conditions are moved to the front of the line while those who can survive waiting, do.
However, Medicare still offers several advantages. Medicare's cost-effectiveness is something like 98%, because minimal administration is required for billing. Healthcare costs are kept low because the government dictates the prices hospitals and doctors can charge, not the other way around. The entire population is covered, and has fast access to care in emergencies. And the standard of care provided is comparable to that of the United States (excluding wait times).
I wish they would take the great parts of the Canadian health care system and the well functioning parts of the US health care system and combine them to make a great health care system we can both benefit from. I do know that in Canada the wait at a hospital can sometimes be hours and hours on end, so this would be something that would need to be fixed, but looking into other parts of the system is definitely better than the US.
Canada offers free health care to all of its citizens. It is my belief that health care is a basic human right, and should be provided free-of-charge by the government. The United States is moving closer towards free health care with the implementation of ObamaCare and programs such as MassHealth on the state-level, but it is not as broad as Canada's health programs.
It's about time the United States understands that while expenses might be more on the front end to give everyone health care, in the long term it is actually saving money. It is a lot cheaper to provide free cancer screenings than it is for the public to pay down the road for someone who has cancer.
From what I have heard, Canadians don't really like the way their healthcare is set up. Those who need immediate help don't get it because they are having to wait for appoints ridiculous amounts of time. While not every American has healthcare, because of that, the people who can make it to the doctor get much better service.