tokugawa saidThe U.S. has had socialized medicine since 1798, when the predecessor to the U.S. Public Health Service was established to provide medical care to merchant seamen. By the way, George Washington was president in 1798.
Today, the major U.S. government health insurance programs are Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare provides health coverage to Americans over 65, Medicaid provides health coverage to the extreme poor.
People with AIDS can only become eligible for Medicaid after "spending down" their wealth to about $200. This would not be necessary under a Canadian "single payer" system, where all Canadians are covered by a single government run insurance program which pays for doctor and hospital services.
In the U.S., private insurance companies will spend whatever it takes to prevent a Canadian-type single payer system here. In fact, the U.S. insurance industry will spend whatever it takes to prevent any law which limits or reduces its profits. This is evident when comparing the administrative costs of the Canadian system (3% of their health care dollar) to the American system (14% of our health care dollar.)
Actually, Medicare is a federally funded program and is part of The Social Security Administration. Medicaid is a state funded program, and is for folks who a minor children, and, almost always, under age of majority, which is 18, in most states, but, lower in a few, and higher in others. Medicaid is NOT, as some think, a program for the poor or indigent. Those programs are almost always funded at the county level such as JPS for Fort Worth (Tarrant County), and Parkland Cares for Dallas (Dallas County). In Denton County (Denton, TX), and in many counties across the country there are funds for indigent / payer of last resort. Finally, in some areas there a NO funds for someone who gets sick, or hurt, and can't pay. Those folks only receive through the very, very, very expensive emergency room, where, in most states, and by federal guidelines, they can't be refused service.
In Dallas County, Dallas's Parkland Hospital has the highest illegal birth rate in the world of 83%. That is 83% of all births at Parkland Hospital are to folks who are in this country illegally. Most of that activity is funded by the public. Parkland, despite that, is one of the highest rated, level 1, trauma centers, in The World.
In Texas, we have The Texas Risk Pool, which provides insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, but, is not all-accepting, and in true American style, only if they can pay for it. E.g., HIV, diabetes, mental illness, etc. That fund, by law, CANNOT be competitive with private insurance and must be higher than 78% of private insurance companies in the state. It does not insure anyone that can be insured via other means, generally speaking, no matter what the cost of the private insurance. That fund really isn't public, but, rather, is a for-profit fund, operated by Blue Cross of Texas.
In Texas, if you don't have money to get into the Texas Risk Pool, and you happen to live in a non-urban county, as a general rule, you're "out of luck."
Here in Texas, wait times for public services are EXTREME. We just saw someone work in July for an appointment set October 21'st for SNAP (food stamps). I intervened on their behalf and got the appointment moved, but, only after I threatened a broadcast news story on it.
George Bush'es "faith-based" approach doesn't work, although charities try. For our local CCA (Christian Community Action) wait times as long as six weeks are not at all uncommon.