Alright, time for me to contribute my story of different countries' health care.
I lived in Japan for four-plus years and got a bit spoiled by the cost of health care there. It's very cheap.
In Japan, the government has decided on a very low price for every imaginable procedure. If you have a cut that needs stitches, there's a formula based on the length of the cut, location of the cut, and number of stitches that you needed that translates into a price. The hospitals have to follow that book exactly. Prices are very low. Regular trips to the doctor will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 to 10 US dollars. Medicine is similarly low priced.
The problem with this, of course, is that a lot of Hospitals find themselves under funded and doctors underpaid and they cannot raise the prices to compensate without waiting until the next time the government revises the price book and even then, prices may go down further depending on what the government decides. The government, as I understand it, then supplements these hospitals to keep them afloat.
I may not be 100% accurate on that, but that's how I understand it.
But from a patient's perspective things are great. Waits are pretty low. I usually experienced a 45 minute wait on a walk-in with no appointment to see a doctor, which isn't that bad. Obviously emergencies get you seen much faster. The longest wait I ever had was 90 minutes to see my daughter who had the chicken pox and needed some ointment. This fairly low wait time is more impressive considering almost every medicine is prescription-only over there, so if you need something for whatever reason, you've got to swing by a hospital or clinic, and doctors are extremely stingy with medicines. They prefer to give you a small amount of antibiotic or whatever and then have a follow up appointment and prescribe more if necessary. Contrast that with America where they prescribe you more than should be necessary and call it good (which can be a bad thing and a good thing).
So, doctor visits are much more frequent in Japan, and in order to keep the waiting times down, visits with doctors are very brief. When you check in, you're usually given a thermometer and pointed at a blood-pressure machine in the waiting room so that you can get all that out of the way yourself. Then, when it's your turn, you walk into the room with the doctor, who already knows what you're there for since you already told a nurse and doesn't ask you to repeat yourself. He checks out what needs checking, tells you what's up, asks you if you have any questions, and sends you back to the waiting room. A nurse in the room takes down his instructions, turns it into a prescription or whatever and hands that to you a few minutes later. In total, you get about 5 minutes face time with the doctor, and you're out the door. I never felt rushed or mistreated though. The nurses also make sure you understand everything (usually takes more time with me and my Japanese ability). The system works really well.
When it comes to surgeries, there isn't much wait at all. I went in with an ingrown toenail, suggested surgery to prevent it from happening again, the doctor agreed and two hours later, I was tied to a table in a surgery bay, surrounded by two surgeons and several nurses, hooked up to a heart monitor, and getting nervous about whether or not the doctor misunderstood my Japanese and was about to take the whole foot. Full story here.
It was extremely cheap considering all the things that went in to it.
I also had a septoplasty to repair my deviated septum. I'm not sure if there was a waiting line or not because I scheduled it several months in advance and didn't have any trouble reserving the days that I wanted (which fit into my work schedule best). I spent five days in the hospital afterwards. In America, I would have been kicked out to watch after myself after a day. Hospital food in Japan is awesome.
And as for child birth. Wow, it's like night and day when compared to America. First of all, the wife and baby stay in the hospital after birth for a week standard. You can request to leave earlier if the baby is healthy, but they recommend and welcome you to stay the whole time. My daughter had to stay an extra week because of some mild jaundice and some eye infection she developed. 100% of the cost was covered by the government. Also every time she visited a doctor in her first three years, we could keep records and get the money refunded by the government.
Total cost from conception to three years
of age: $0.
In America, just recently I had a son. He stayed a day in the hospital and then came home the next. He had much worse jaundice than my daughter had and had to be hooked up to this cool UV glowing vest.
Even after my insurance, I was paying $150 per day for two days for the rental of the vest plus $150 per day for the nurse to come and check him. Cheaper than staying in the hospital, to be sure, but still...
Total cost from conception to three months
of age: $4000 (or thereabouts)
I feel fairly confident that if we have another kid, it's going to be in Japan.