OK, from a Canadian here are some of my thoughts/opinions on our system. As most said, if you have a cold or something fairly minor then it's great because there is no cost but you also can't just show up at your family physician to get seen. In some cases by the time you get an appointment, the minor cold is gone and you no longer need to see the doctor. I used to work in a doctor's office when I was 16 and I saw the same patients there almost on a daily basis because they just find something they need to have looked at just because they can and they're lonely so at least they have the doc to talk to.
On the more serious issues or needing imaging (MRI, etc) it's a terrible process. I had a doc take an xray of my knee from a soccer injury (waited 4 weeks for this appointment). Then when the xray wasn't good enough he sent me for an MRI of which I waited 6 months to get. The good news is that I had no damage necessary of needing surgery and I didn't have to pay a dime for this but if I was say 70 years old and needed a hip looked at by the time it was seen and then finally operated on I may have done further damage.
So there are pluses and minuses to our system and we do have at least 1 private clinic here in Winnipeg where I could just pay the price tag for an MRI and get it done much quicker or drive to North Dakota and get it done there.