@spivonious: from first hand experience I can tell you, government run hospitals do not work.
My wife is a nurse, so I get the stories every night when she comes home.
There are too many managers, too little nurses and the doctors are grossly overpaid.
We spent 70 billion euros on healthcare, for 16 million people. A stitching here costs 200 euros, over in Belgium a tenth in a private hospital (correct me if I am wrong ZippyV).
Money doesn't trickle to the bottom, so nurses are structurally underpaid and therefore always in short supply. So much so, that the government here is pushing for more male nurses and is trying to buff up the image of a nurse. That caring is not in a males natiure, doesn't seem to matter.
Our health insurance is government controlled, as such subject to politics. I have to pay 200,- a month and can only get money back of my bill each year is above 350,- and i have to pay 7.50 a day in hospital, if current plans continue. Much is not covered by the insurance, only things the insurer and government deems neccesairy.
Care is poor at best, but none of it is to blame on the direct staff. Childbirth deaths is the highest in Europe, because we have to pay 180,- if you want to have labour in hospital without medical need. There are reported cases of deadly bacteria on the loose in hospitals, we have a hearing, but nothing changes, director stays at his job with high paid salary or moves along to a differnt hospital fir higher wage.
No sir, health care is way too important for the government to run.
All of the prices you stated are fractions of what they would cost over here in the U.S.. For example, a normal childbirth costs around $15,000. A night in the hospital runs around $1,000 in my area.
If there's one industry where the free market cannot work properly, it's healthcare. If someone is dying and needs heart surgery, they're not going to shop around for the best price. You have, in effect, an infinite demand.
My father is a physician (general practice), and he has the same stories that your wife tells. Nurse shortages, hospital administrators making millions, doctors ordering extra tests to guard against a future malpractice lawsuit. And this is at a non-profit hospital (which means they don't pay any property or income tax).
My health insurance is very good and the company I work for pays 75% of the premiums. I still have to pay $150/month, and I get none of it back.