A comment I posted on the internet two years ago: "Insurance companies do not provide health care. They act as intermediaries between you and doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, etc. taking a part of the transaction cost. An insurance company’s objective is to make money. Often they say that they have profits only in the order of single digits, but it is their far greater organizational cost that accounts for the difference between income and outgo. They want to maximize the amount of premiums they take in and minimize the amount of their payouts. They employ oodles of people to check the validity of claims made for payments, others to sell their products and highly paid bosses to oversee these activities. From an individual’s point of view insurance companies are thus the antithesis of obtaining health care. Most health care in Europe is managed by its governments. Money to pay for it is obtained in the form of taxes. This income and the payments for health care are in the general budgets of the countries or adjuncts to it, similar to expenditures for education, infrastructure, armies, police, etc. Doctors participating in public health care systems are public employees and are paid salaries. They don’t have to carry expensive malpractice insurance; the government would sustain any successful claims for malpractice. Doctors do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars to repay for their educations because their education costs are significantly less than in the U.S. Most doctors have gone to state schools. Some medicines are free, some must be paid for by the patient, and some have a “co-pay” of a couple of Euros. One need not go to a doctor or hospital that is publicly funded; there are also private ones. Waits for non-critical specialists’ visits can be long and you can get quicker service going private, but when there is a critical need care is immediately available with the public system. Average life expectancies are longer. Thus health care costs less but is better in Europe than in the U.S. "