Ezra Klein points out that health care in the United Kingdom is really cheap:
In 2006, adjusted for purchasing power, the United Kingdom spent $2,760 per person on health care. America spent $6,714. It's a difference of almost $4,000 per person, spread across the population.
Andrew Sullivan, in response, waxes libertarian:
One reason I'm a conservative is the British National Health Service. Until you have lived under socialism, it sounds like a great idea. It isn't misery - although watching my parents go through the system lately has been nerve-wracking - but there is a basic assumption. The government collective decides everything. You, the individual patient, and you, the individual doctor, are the least of their concerns.
Andrew is completely missing the point. Nobody is proposing to import the British health system to America. But the conservative habit of pointing out that getting health treatment in the U.S. is better than getting it in the U.K. (as long as you have health insurance, that is) tells us nothing. Is American health care nearly three times better? Suppose you offered every Brit a chance to pay almost three times the cost of what they're currently paying for health care so they have an American-style system. Oh, and part of the bargain is that they have to accept a one-in-seven chance of having no insurance at all. How many of them would take it? Not very many, I'd say.