It's not that there is not profit to be made in the medical industry in Canada. Drug companies and universities both do extensive research, using some tax dollars as well as reinvesting profits.
Where we don't have a profit motive (or savings motive) is in the insurance portion of the plan. That is the prmary difference. We simply replace the HMO with a gov't plan that everyone belongs to. It's actually pretty simple.
The US system does not leave the decision of treatment up to the doctor, but instead to someone that works for an insurance company. The major difference that we have is that doctor is in control of the treatment. Intuitively, you would think that costs would rise without the "control" that the HMO places on it, but it's just not true. Our health care costs are lower, and it's not like we're all laying in the street dying.
The one thing that we do is make you wait for a procedure that is not medically required at this time. However, the horror stories of waiting lists are just plain bunk, propogated by those hoping to push private insurance plans. My wife needed a CT-Scan, and the doctor thought it quite urgent. Wait? One day. She needed some minor sugery that the doctor thought should be done within 24 hours. Wait? Five hours. When things need to be done, they are. We don't push someone to the top of the list because they can pay.
That idea is "un-American" in some ways, but it works, since we're not American. Sure, there are some rich Canadians that gripe because they can't dominate the health care system. The vast majority of us like the universal insurance system, and work very hard to preserve it.
We know it's a compromise. We might have to forego some of the most wildly-advanced treatments, that would only be used on a few people anyway, to have basic treatment available to everyone.
The reason for the failure in China, Russia, and Cuba has nothing to do with Canada and our system. They do not have highly regulated capitalist economic systems (the word regulated meaning evolved and structured) that generate huge amounts of GDP that is utilized by a democratic system of government. Those nations have extemist forms of government that function as dictatorships and have little in common with our own nation. It's a poor comparison, but not unual for the US to draw upon to strike fear in people thinking of gov't insurance programs.
1998 C230 "Black Betty"