I have some experience with both of these
I am a college student but we don't get medical insurance included in the fees. I don't think the students here would go for a mandated medical fee. Especially since tuition went up almost 19%. The "special" student rate for medical coverage works out to almost $600 a semester. I'm not against the idea of insurance but rather how it works here in the US. I've gone into doctor's offices where the have different "prices" for cash patients vs. insurance patients. The same cash bill that costs less than $100 ends up being almost 2 or $3,000 when billed to insurance. Prescription costs are a joke. There are bloody ads on TV to advertise x drug. How expensive was that air spot to buy? Let's not even get into the fact that work places shouldn't be giving health coverage in the first place. Oh I think they should cover work related health care but that's the extent of it. At the same time health coverage should be affordable even for fast food workers to afford. Well anyway lot's of issues etc. etc. I thnk Christine has the right of it. Bike to stay out of the hospital.
You are right about getting a cash discount. You can also usually get payments worked out (no interest). But for most offices, you have to know to ask for a CASH discount. However, it's more like 50-70% off the "sticker" price.
I know because I broke a wrist/arm taking a spill on my bike. No insurance. Paid all of it out of pocket. The lamest part was the emergency room bill. I should really have found a way of avoiding that.
Another issue raised is whether it makes economic sense to have insurance. Health insurance is like most types of insurance. If you have something to loose then it is a very very good idea. It's true the hospital has to treat you if you walk in and will have to eat the bill if you can't pay. However, there are two complications to this plan. First, you won't get all the treatment you might want. I'm righthanded and broke my right wrist. The only way I got a first rate orthopedic and an external fixator was because I put up the cash. Sure the hospital would have cast it up and put me out the door, but I might have lost much of my range of motion in that wrist. Second, the hospital, doctors, etc. will come try to collect. If you have any cash saved, or other assets they can demand payment. Sure, if you have a very low income and no assets you can walk away, but it'd sure suck to see years of house downpayment savings disappear to the collection agencies (or whatever).
Now days I'm nicely covered by work. Hopefully, Murphy's Law remains intact and I will too.