@PT - pick any two
PT, I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.
In an emergency room: if the headache was accompanied by something like having recently passed out, he would have had an mri before leaving the hospital. What you wrote about, sounded like a visit to a family physician. If that Dr had thought it was an emergency, he would have sent your friend to the hospital in an ambulance.
At the end of the day, what you are complaining about, is a layer of bureaucracy that delayed the mri from "right now", to at least a week later.
That layer of bureaucracy and level of delay is nothing compared to the level of delay in Canada. In other countries (like the UK), I have no idea.
UK people: if you went to your family (non emergency) clinic with a severe headache, would you be able to get an order for an mri? If so, how soon would it be done?
Canada: The Canadian friends with the baby... that was a clear emergency. It was called an emergency by the doctor. Yet the ultrasound was still delayed until the following week. For Canadians that require an mri for things like severe back, knee or hip pain, the delay can be several months (at least it was at that time). If your friend were in Canada, I have a feeling that a severe headache would have put him in with the group of people with back pain. He would have had no chance at an mri within 6 days.
Around the same time of the Canadian couple and their baby, I had seen an article in a canadian news paper regarding a private mri clinic in either Edmonton or Calgary. That clinic would give an mri to anyone willing to pay $400 cdn, bypassing the 4 month wait for an mri in the province. For things like back pain, you needed an mri to get on the list for back surgery.
The reaction to the private mri clinic? Calls for it to be shut down. Because it was unfair and provided an advantage to those who could/would pay, because they would get on the back surgery list sooner.
So how could a business even survive, where the competition is giving the same product away for free? By doing the same thing better or faster or cheaper, and people in pain are a motivated customer. But if you're the gov and the competition is making you look bad, you can crush them through legislation, regulation, or taxation.
While I'm sure that we would get the same 2009 level of care on a gov plan vs a private plan, my concern would be that on a gov plan, we would be getting 2012 care in 2020. Lack of competition drives out innovation and use of new tech and new drugs.
In IT there is a saying that is applied to data storage, and sometimes entire systems. You can have: Good, Fast, Cheap... Pick any two.
I'd say that this applies to health care too. Long term, no system can provide all three. And you have to have some companies/countries pushing the envelope on combinations of Good, Fast, Cheap. If you don't, everything stagnates.
Note: Search google news for the words: calgary mri private. You will see results with lawsuits, supreme court decisions, banning, complaints that the local hospital mri staff quit to go work at the private clinics, people willing to travel long distances and pay for medical services, the gov trying to compete by adding two mri machines, etc.
While you are looking, please note that Canada operates as a republic, much more than the US does. Provinces have much more latitude in their own laws and regulations. So one province could have had private mri clinics, while another province could have simultaneously had a total ban on private clinics. Then the provinces fight each other in federal court.
Note: The Canadian friends lived in Windsor, owned a business in metro Detroit.
Before 9/11, we had a pretty open border here. Typical question was Citizenship?, Where you headed?, Have a nice day... People were asked for ID, maybe 15% of the time. Sometimes you would get to the gate, and you would just be waved through. So it was very easy to commute to work.
Note: I never paid my bill from the time that I was stabbed (I couldn't have)... While it stayed on my credit for 7 years, the hospital never sued me, or pursued it very hard. I had several mortgages and plenty of credit during this time. Mortgage brokers would say things like "well, it hurts you, but we don't look at medical collections too hard".
But on the other hand: If i had stumbled into a doctors office rather than into a hospital, they would have sent it to a collection agency that would have pursued it to the ends of the earth.
Note to anyone with enough spare time on their hands to have read this far: The "-if true-" from pt gets under my skin a little, and I could throw the same thing back at pt... But I'm sure that it IS true. We all know of someone who has died of something like a heart attack at 30, 35 or 40. It's always shocking, and we always feel that more could have been done by the doctor/hospital/police/ family/insurance/gov. It's a shame that it happens.
Again, i'm sorry for your friend, and the loss felt by his family and friends.
Because everything you write on the internet lives forever, and could cost you a job 10 years from now.