NY Times article about Dutch Health Care Minister's observations on the US health care system, overhauls being made to the Dutch system, and things going well in their system that the US should consider http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/health/10conv.html He feels that Holland's system does not ration or budget care and is visiting Mayo Clinic as a leader in medicine; he felt innovation should be encouraged by the system by providing incentives to meet the demands of supplying labor (doctors and nurses.)
The article states that nearly 40 percent of the nation's population gets care from Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Affairs, all of which have significant restrictions on the choices available to patients. (My dad, a Vet, would definitely agree with that!)
According to the article, in the Netherlands, everyone chooses from a list of 10 or so insurers who offer a standardized health plan that can be enriched with other options. Those who cannot afford the premiums are given subsidies; premiums are based on the benefits offered, not on a person's age, health status or sex.
So what can be done? Suggestions include creating quality indicators based on medical process and patient's outcomes as well as electronic medical records for coordinated, coherent care. Hmmm. Not sure this isn't all being talked about between me and my Canadian clients. We've already determined that we can solve the world's problems, if only someone would listen! :P