Rhonda Hackett, a Canadian expat clinical psychologist living in the US, has an editorial in the Denver Post with a good round-up of myths and truths about Canadian health care. I've lived under the Canadian, US, British and Costa Rican health care systems and of the four, I believe that the Canadian one functions best (I'd rank them Canadian, British, Costa Rican and US). My experience with all four includes routine and urgent care. I've had firsthand experience of pre-and post-natal care in Canada, the US and the UK; I've also seen the Canadian, US and UK palliative care system in action.
On the other hand, I believe that the UK system of caring for elderly people is better than the others; Costa Ricans have better services for rural people; and the US has a better culture of retail service (outside of healthcare) than anywhere else I've lived.
Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.
In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada's taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.
Myth: Canada's health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy.
The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn't when everybody is covered.