There are two of the main differences between what is our universal health care system here in Ontario and the one they are trying to implement in the U.S.
Main difference #1
Here in Ontario you don't have to have a health card (the little piece of plastic that shows we are part of the universal health care here in Ontario, its free to get it), but if you don't have one you will pay thousands of dollars to go and see the doctor or use the hospital. So the choice here is you either get the free card and pay only the yearly fee, or you don't get the card and pay the hospital fees out of pocket and still pay the $250 - $500/household/year.
Main difference #2
The amount we pay for the universal health care system here is astronomically different. We only pay a set yearly fee based on family income and size. In the states you will have to pay a fee slightly higher then our yearly fee, with the main exception being you pay this amount monthly. The amount an individual will pay in the states per year is greater then 12 times the max amount we pay here for a household per year.
I would like to also state that the new health care system in the states is only disguised as a social program, it is actually a money making scheme. Part of the evidence for this is the $ that is being paid out by the individual, as well as the fact that health care in the states has been about making $ since prior to the Nixon era. There is absolutely no reason for the doctors in the U.S. to get paid as much as they do, one should look at how much you health care officials there get paid and compare those figures to almost anywhere else in the world.
Our Income Tax in Canada
I had a person from the states point something out to me yesterday about our income tax here and I don't know how many Americans are under this assumption about how much we pay, but I am going address that issue raised here using my own taxes and 12 years of doing volunteer tax work for my dad. He is retired and unable to do it himself because of his health and eye site, so I do it free of charge for him and he collects the $ from his clients and keeps it for himself and my mother.
This person was under the impression that here in Ontario Canada we pay thousands of $$/month in income tax because of our Social programs that we have next to no disposable income because of our income taxes, this persons statement is nowhere close to being an accurate.
Last year I was making $14/hour and working about 40 hours/week, so my gross pay was $560.00/week and I should have about $103.63 deducted from each pay (I actually have $123.63 taken off, I have opted to have an extra $20/week taken off for reasons explained later). The $103.63 is further divided into three groups, employment insurance ($9.69), Canadian Pension Plan ($24.39), and income tax ($69.55).
The first group (EI) is pooled together with everyone else's money whom pays EI, this pooled amount of money is then used by the government to pay for those people whom have lost their job do to reasons beyond their control for up to a max of something like 48 weeks, a situation I myself am currently in.
I am getting $572 bi weekly until either I find new work, or my EI claim runs out in November. I had only been paying into it for 8 months prior to being laid off and paid a total of about $333.34 (4.3 weeks/month for 8 months @ $9.69/week).
Now one thing people will notice is that the amount I paid compared to the amount that I received is astronomically different, I am receiving way more then I paid into it. The extra $ comes from the other money people paid into EI that are still working and therefore are not yet in need of it, and the rest comes from the income tax collected, which I will discuss shortly.
The second group (CPP) is collected by the federal government and is put towards our retirement, this amount when paid back by the government is broken down by how much you have paid into it through your life and then broken up into monthly installments. Now there is a major short fall between how much the average person gets paid after retirement and the cost of living here, so again the government takes money from the income tax collect and gives a supplement to retired people to put them just slightly above the cost of living here.
This now brings me to final group collected for income tax purposes, this can be divided into two sub groups. The first group is the Federal portion of the income tax (out of the $69.55 that I paid weekly, $45.91 goes to the federal government), and the second group is the provincial potion of the income tax (out of the $69.55 that I paid weekly, $23.64 goes to the provincial government). This money is then kept into two separate pools of money, one for the federal and the other for the provincial. It is then used to for any short comings in our social programs and infrastructure costs.
I should be noted that this money is not pooled together until after the tax season is first over, this is mainly because of two reasons. The first is because the government actually over taxes the average person, and the second is because here in Canada (I don't know how it works in the states) a person opt to pay more into their deductions then what is required (I purposely have an extra $20/pay taken off). The two previous things actually make it so the average lower and some middle income people will get a tax refund at the end of the year (The higher income group and some of the middle income are actually taxed less then they should be and have to pay more money to the government at the end of the tax season). After the government send out the refunds (or notices that you still owe money in the case of both higher and some middle class people).
now lets jump back to me as an example. As stated before I am required to have $103.63 taken from my pay of $560.00/week. I also have that extra $20/pay taken off, so my true deduction is $123.63.
In a year (provided I worked the full year) I would make $29,120 gross pay. I would have a total of $6,428.76 deducted over the whole year, this gives me a net pay of $22,691.24. The government will then look at the amount they collect from me and look at what they were actually required to collect, when they look at this they also include things such as our $250-$500/household fee for our health care system and other costs for our social systems and infrastructure. The government then figures out if they over collected or under collected and will send me either a income tax refund or bill me the difference (I have never been billed to date, I have always gotten a refund).
Because I am of the lower/middle income class here in Canada, I already know that the government has over taxed me and I can expect a refund of some amount. I ask for the extra $20/pay to be taken because I like the idea of getting an extra $1040.00 back on top of what they already owe me (when I get my refund in Feb/March it feels like a belated x-mas present from the government). My actually refund tends to fluctuate between $400 - $600/year, so at the end of the tax year I get between $1440.00 - $1640.00 back as a refund.
The end result is that even though the government gets $6,428.76 yearly with $503.88 for employment insurance, 1268.28 for Canadian Pension Plan, $3616.60 income tax ($2387.32 for the federal and $1229.28 for the prov) and $1040.00 that I get taken off so I get a bigger check at the end of tax time, the government will give me a refund of $1440.00 - $1640.00 (tax free income). The real amount the government gets off me is actually between $4788.76 - $4988.76/year.
Now one of the things I have heard is that a system like this cant work without the government running into a huge debt problem, this is a very false statement. Our government here while using the system set up this way under the liberal government actually got us into a surplus of a few billion prior to the Harper Conservative Government , which took this surplus and wasted it on various projects while the NDP, BQ, and Liberals asked them to hold on to it just in case of an unexpected (yeah right) economic crisis or natural disaster. He didn't listen and right after her got rid of the surplus, the economic crisis happened (one has to keep in mind that harper had a hand to play in the Bilderberg meeting, G20, and G8 all happening here.
I know that there is a major resistance to adopt a Canadian type system in the states, but I feel part of this is again based on miss information about how our system works. I think that in this time of Crisis that the states are facing it may be benefit the country and more so the people to adopt a system like the Canadian system, not the system itself, but something that very closely resembles it. I am not making this suggestion to try an rid you of you independence or national identity, but because it is a form that could really help out the people in your country.