" Well, Saudi, the UAE and Oman have excellent public, universal healthcare systems, but they have fairly high infant mortaliy rates. And yes, I know you said cultural differences last time. Maybe they play a bigger role that the nature of healthcare spending?"
Cultural differences, many times emphasized by religion, do have an effect on healthcare in general. That is, IMO, the reason why the infant mortality rates in the countries you mentioned are (still) very high, although significant improvements have been made over the last decades. The fact that these are all 'rich' countries with universal healthcare systems, does not mean that automatically upon implementation of such a universal system, the infant mortality rate drops to zero.
Regarding your comment on why Canadians head south of the border to get treatment, the following.
Although I don't know the Canadian health system, I do know that some European countries with universal health-care have similar problems (Holland, for example). Of course, this is a bad situation, but the fact that these Canadians go to the States for their treatment doesn't mean that the US health-care is better, it is just more accessible because it is profit-based.
Below are a few interesting facts I found in a study titled "AMERICAN HEALTH CARE: WHY SO COSTLY?" by 'The Commomwealth Fund' (and which can be found here: http://www.cmwf.org/programs/quality/davis_senatecommitteetestimony_654.pdf:
- Health insurance premiums are rising 10 to 15 percent a year. Insurance companies are increasing profits and reserves and recouping losses incurred in the mid-1990s.
- In 2001, the U.S. spent more than $1.4 trillion for health care, or 14.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP)—a major jump from 13.3 percent of GDP in 2000.
-Administrative expenses are increasing 11.2 percent a year. Currently at $111 billion, they are projected to rise to $223 billion in 2012. Administrative expenses for private insurance are two-and-one-half times as high as for public programs.
- The U.S. spent $4,631 per capita on health care in 2000, 69 percent more than in Germany, 83 percent more than in Canada, and 134 percent more than the average of all industrialized nations.
- Health care spending in the U.S. is higher because we pay higher prices for the same services, have higher administrative costs, and perform more complex specialized procedures.
- Sick adults in the U.S. report higher rates of medical errors, are more likely to go for duplicate tests, and are less likely to have their medical records available when they go for care compared with similar adults in other major English- speaking countries.
Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant!