To the extent other industrialized nations pay attention to the U.S., they must wonder why establishing something as basic as adequate health-care for everyone is so hard for Americans to achieve. Availability to solid health-care for all citizens in a nation is about as basic as a good fire department is for a city. In this instance, "American exceptionalism" is not a compliment. Most reliable ratings of health-care systems worldwide put that of the U.S. around 35th (or so).
As you no doubt already know, one reason for our inability to get to this basic goal is that Congresspersons in effect answer to large health-"management" companies and insurance companies, who contribute a lot of money to campaigns and who employ people who previously worked in Congress as staffers. Thanks to a fellow blogger in Tacoma, I was able to look at a simple map of such corruption involving an important participant in the health-care legislation, Max Baucus, a U.S. Senator from Montana (and once you get to the chart, you may click on it to enlarge it):
Even a poet can grasp the corruption reflected in this chart!
Ancillary problems are that the alleged two-party system is, in effect, a one-party system wherein the two large parties suck up money from the same troughs, and that corporations may legally function as persons, so that trying to limit a corporation's monetary control of elections is depicted legally as an encroachment on "free speech," as if a corporation had vocal cords.
One piece of the current legislation delays the public option (which, among other things, would put pressure on insurance companies and also spread out the risk--you remember that simple insurance-concept) until 2013--after a) another presidential election, and b) a lot of people will have died, some of whom will die because of inadequate health-care. Demographically, it's in the insurance-companies' interest to have a lot of Baby-Boomers die; what a lovely bunch of coconuts. Meanwhile, when a citizen (or a visiting American, for that matter) in Canada or Sweden becomes ill, he or she (now, follow this complexity) goes to a doctor or a hospital to get treated without fear of being turned away for insurance-reasons or of going broke after being treated. Wow. It's almost like when a brush-fire occurs in a city and a crew from the fire department puts it out with water, quickly and professionally. If Baucus were in charge, the truck would show up late, charge the land-owner, and throw gasoline on the fire. Thanks for looking out for us, Max.
And yes, I know nothing is perfect in Canada or Sweden or elsewhere, but the American system suffers from more than imperfection. It just isn't functioning.