I recently read a book on the history of socialized healthcare in Canada, which was fascinating. I'm very passionate about the development of a comparable system down here in the US but realized I didn't know anything about how such a program was established in countries where it actually exists! All I knew about Canada's case was that a dude named Tommy Douglas was involved (years later he was voted the Greatest Canadian) but it's a bit more complicated than that. I had four main takeaways from the book:
1. Social programs can start regionally. There's a refrain you hear continually that if, say, California were to institute a socialized health insurance system it would immediately collapse because all the "takers" would move there (absent border control) to drain its resources. Yet that's how socialized health insurance developed in Canada - it was driven by the province of Saskatchewan, which had hospitalization insurance a full decade before any involvement by the federal government. To say that regional social programs are doomed to fail is simply against historical fact. This is how federalism is supposed to work! Experimentation is done at smaller scale and success bubbles up.
2. Doctors are the enemy. This was surprising to me, because I'm friends with a good number of (residency) doctors and all are very passionate about health equality. Maybe their opinions will change once that private practice money starts rolling in, I don't know. But basically organized medicine has opposed socialized health programs in every country they have been tried - an interesting counterexample to the idea that labor organization will per se lead to better social outcomes.
3. Liberals won't get it done (and might make things worse). This makes sense if you view it as a negotiation: socialists need to be pushing hard for radical change in order for the final product to land somewhere in the middle. If you're talking about the need for moderation at the beginning of negotiations, you've already lost. A good litmus test to tell whether someone is serious about healthcare reform or just making impotent gestures in its direction.
4. Socialized healthcare means more than free access to care. In retrospect this one is obvious, but I somehow had missed it. Just having access to healthcare doesn't actually make you healthy. The social determinants of health are much more powerful than going to the doctor once years of poverty have already taken their toll. The scope very quickly expands and you start talking about housing access, food access, and just economic equality generally.