Why that paradoxical conclusion should be utterly and undeniably true even for those who haven't experienced both is made clear in a delightful piece by Cato Institute scholars Michael Tanner and Michael Cannon (who apparently prove that all young Americans of a certain age are named Michael) in the LA Times of all places.
As usual, we tantalize with a quotation, one that speaks volumes of economic, medical and political sense:
Simply saying that people have health insurance is meaningless. Many countries provide universal insurance but deny critical procedures to patients who need them. Britain's Department of Health reported in 2006 that at any given time, nearly 900,000 Britons are waiting for admission to National Health Service hospitals, and shortages force the cancellation of more than 50,000 operations each year. In Sweden, the wait for heart surgery can be as long as 25 weeks, and the average wait for hip replacement surgery is more than a year. Many of these individuals suffer chronic pain, and judging by the numbers, some will probably die awaiting treatment. In a 2005 ruling of the Canadian Supreme Court, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin wrote that "access to a waiting list is not access to healthcare."
Supporters of universal coverage fear that people without health insurance will be denied the healthcare they need. Of course, all Americans already have access to at least emergency care. Hospitals are legally obligated to provide care regardless of ability to pay, and although physicians do not face the same legal requirements, we do not hear of many who are willing to deny treatment because a patient lacks insurance.
We offer a brief and vague personal testimony: had our SWNIDish self persisted under universal health coverage, what was treated quickly and simply outside that "universal" system would perhaps, thanks to an outrageous waiting list for such a simple procedure, literally have turned deadly (and we use "literally" in its literal sense). This argument is not an abstraction.