There are accounts like this from time to time in the Canadian press. I give it credence.
The wait for diagnosis is long. Emergency care can be very good, on the other hand. My boss had a heart attack over the holidays and got a stent within 15 minutes of arrival at the hospital.
When my MD south of the border said I should get a colonoscopy, I checked into getting one here in Calgary, Canadistan, since I am a paid-up subscriber to Alberta Health Care. The local GP said, sure! We can get around to you...in about 3 years. Hmmm. I think he wanted me to get it sort of soon, for some reason, so I returned to the Wet Coast and got probed. Yeah, it cost me. (A-OK, by the way. Thanks for asking. Wanna see the pictures?) I might make an appointment now for one in three years, though. Gotta do it again by then.
I worked with a Chinese fellow (here in Cowtown) who was fortunate enough to have been diagnosed with cancer in time. In Canada, he was scheduled for surgery 3 months off. He immediately got on the plane to Tampa and paid another $10k to have it done RIGHT NOW.
God help those who live outside of urban areas, though. Some of the stories in the press are about those who died waiting for diagnosis. It is a small country, though, so there may not be many such stories. On the other hand, Canadians are good at suffering in silence. Prairie stoicism.
It is important to realize that universal health care is the biggest sacred cow up here. It is like social security in the US. There are big problems with funding, staffing (big exodus of nurses to the US; some doctors, too--e.g., our pediatricians in Houston) and equipment--all of which is allocated by political process. The Government know what is best, after all.
Best for who? Open question. There are some interesting alternatives which get a trial balloon once in a while, but they last as long as a butterfly in a blast furnace.
In Canada, I can afford treatment, but I can't get it on demand.
In the US, I can get it on demand, but I can't afford it.
I keep a foot in each country. Unlike hundreds of millions, I have a choice. At the moment. Maybe.