I think the key figure in comparing the US's health care system to those of other countries is the amount of money spent on researching new drugs, new treatments and overall R&D. I don't have have any clear cut facts, but it seems like I'm always hearing about new breakthroughs comming out of the US, but don't really hear much about other countries (of course, that can easily be blamed on the biased US media, but that's another discussion). The topic of research and development was brought up once in this thread's 10 pages as an afterthought, and I honestly think that it is the key factor that seperates US health care from other countries'.
The question then isn't "Do we want good healthcare?", it's "Do we want progressive healthcare?". It's easy to look up at the ivory tower and forget about its problems. In order to keep making new drugs, to keep curing new things, or to find better cures for old things, there needs to be money spent on research and development. That's the reason why medication HAS to be expensive, why the use of tools HAS to be expensive. These companies make developments, and are then left with huge budget holes. What do you expect from them? To sit around, give away free meds, and never pay back those debts? Of course there are people making money hand-over-fist...in any situation involving money, it's going to happen. But the reality is that the pocketbooks of a few rich white dudes don't really compare to the huge expenses in producing new drugs.
Also, health care IS a societal issue. It affects all of us. At its most basic, keeping your population healthy keeps production strong, and strong production equals a strong economy. A strong economy equals more tax revenues, and more tax revenues lead to things like military (over)spending, pet wars in unpronouncable countries, pork projects, and more money in the pockets of the extremely wealthy. Ok, I guess I let my Anarch flag fly on that last one, but it's obvious that a strong economy helps all of us, not just rich.
To put it in more practical terms, if you're running any sort of business, you need your employees there to do their jobs so that you can stay in business. You *NEED* your employees...that's why you hired them in the first place, no? Sick employees = bad production. It's really as simple as that. Even though my career is my own problem, it will affect me if Mary-the-Coworker doesn't take her meds, because I will eventually have to depend on her, and she may not be able to get the job done.
You simply can't live in a community and pretend that your neighbor's problems aren't your own. In the basest, physical sense, only air seperates one human being from another. Our flesh is punctured easily, there are way too many things today that can shatter our bones. Our bodies are fragile, and we're all going to need some sort of help at some point.
As a final point, I'd like to say that it bothers me when non-US citizens bash on the US. It's very easy to be that one dude who copies everybody else's homework all throughout high school. It's hard to actually be the one to step up to the plate, innovate, and lead the way. The US innovates, other countries copy. I'm not discounting the contributions other countries make, no, don't get me wrong. I know that there's good stuff comming out from the global community. The fact remains, though, that no other country in the world comes close to the scientific advancements...medical, electronic, civil, or otherwise...that the United States has put out. IBM, for example, holds somewhere around 50 to 60% of all computer-related patents worldwide, followed by several American companies (I worked for IBM, hence that's the only real statistical figure I can provide).
It's nice when you can just go ahead and copy what others have already invented and just mass produce it. Production without R&D is simple and cheap. When you don't innovate and create, you don't bother with those costs. You don't have to eat the cost of X failures before producing a viable prototype. So the US invents the transistor, they invent the best methods for miniaturization...and we have China develop it. The US is home to the largest high tech companies in the world...yet India's tech industry is the one that booms.