First, let me urge all of the people posting in this thread to go and read this one over at Something Awful
It's a long thread, but totally worth it. There are horror stories about the US system and golden stories about the Canadian system and other universal systems galore. If you can read that entire thread and still come away opposing universal health care, there's no hope for you.
I mean it. READ THAT GODDAMN THREAD.
Sometimes SA temporarily cuts off the ability to view threads for non-registered users, so try back in a few days if you can't see the thread.
Second, a couple of weeks ago I had a chance to talk to a fellow parent (Let's call him Ron) from my kid's pre-school who lived in Canada for the first 30 years of his life. While he had criticisms of the system, he still felt it was basically good. Ron has four brothers and sisters in law who are all practicing physicians in Canada. None of them want to see the Canadioan system changed. They are all well paid, work only 40 hours per week*, and get paid no matter how many patients they see.
*The 40 hours per week thing was eye-opening, especially in light of arguments made here that the system will be swamped if we get universal coverage. Here's his sister-in-laws's typical day:
-Strolls into work about with an armload of newspapers, magazines, and books. She'll need them to keep herself busy later.
-Starts seeing patients. Roughly 40% of her patients will cancel or no call/no show. There are no penalties for patients to do either, so it happens quite a bit.
-Due to the no shows, she will only do actual work for a little over 5 hours of her 8 hour shift. That's right, not only is she not swamped, she has time to fuck around on the net, read novels, and do crosswords.
-She gets paid a 6 figure salary no matter how many patients she sees. She doesn't deal with any billing paperwork at all.
-She and all of her brothers are aghast at suggestions that they should work harder or more hours. They didn't become doctors to work that hard!
Now, Ron meant this as a criticism of the system, in that there's no accountability for patients who no call/no show, and that doctors have little incentive to be anything other than competent, since they get paid either way. He believes that any new system in the US needs more accountability on both sides, and more incentives for doctors to be better, and I agree. But his story certainly seems to torpedo the notion that doctors under universal systems are so busy that they can't handle the load.