In Great Britain, at least for some, the safety value for the NHS is private health care. In Canada, if you can afford it, the safety value is to leave and get the care in the United States or overseas, perhaps in India.
Here is a reference to comments made by the Director of Trauma at McGill Hospital Centre in regard to the events surrounding the death of Natasha Richardson. He said in part:
"It's impossible for me to comment specifically about her case, but what I could say is ... driving to Mont Tremblant from the city (Montreal) is a 2 1/2-hour trip, and the closest trauma center is in the city. Our system isn't set up for traumas and doesn't match what's available in other Canadian cities, let alone in the States,...
The system is not "set up" for trauma in part because there were no air evac helicopters in that area. As pointed out by others capital investments in the health care system in Canada are costs to the system that cannot be recouped. In the US, the purchase of,for example, an MRI, is also a cost to the hospital or clinic but it can be recouped and typically is a profit center. So hospitals under which system are likely to have MRIs readily available?
It is important to recognize that "universal health care coverage" and "single payer" are not the same thing.
David Henderson of the econlog blog has this to say about the single payer system in Canada:
The essence of "single payer" medicine is that no one other than the government is allowed to pay for medical care. Thus the term "single payer." There are a few exceptions in Canada but, by and large, the more serious the ailment, the more stringent the ban. So, for example, if you want to be treated for cancer in Canada, you can not do so legally and any doctor or hospital that tries to charge you faces serious penalties, up to and including a prison sentence. In that sense, Canadian health care is one of the most totalitarian systems in the industrialized world and is far more extreme than the National Health Service of Britain.
When rationing by waiting turns into health care denied by health care delayed ( as numerous anecdotes or case reports indicate) as occurs in Canada the single payer may in effect work directly counter to the promise of universal care that the single payer system promises. There are many problems of single payer system as a cursory study of the health care in Canada and Great Britain will show, but a single payer system that outlaws private care is, as David Henderson says, about as totalitarian as you can get since your life is in the hands of the state.