Is Healthcare a Human Right? Yes

Published:October 25, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjms.2017.10.001
      Healthcare as a human right is no novelty—it is recognized in various ways throughout the world. Most industrialized nations provide a universal healthcare system for their citizens.
      • Squires D.A.
      The U.S. Health System in Perspective: A Comparison of Twelve Industrialed Nations.
      Despite the United States’ lack of a national healthcare system, it too recognizes and provides a right to healthcare. Since 1986 the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act has required emergency departments to treat acutely ill patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

      US Government CfMaM 1986. Accessed at United States government at https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EMTALA/; September 1, 2017.

      Restricting a prisoner’s access to healthcare was ruled a violation of the Eighth Amendment—it is considered cruel and unusual punishment—by the 1976 Supreme Court case Estelle v Gamble.

      U.S. Supreme Court. Estelle v. Gamble. In: U.S. Supreme Court. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/429/97/case.html, 1976

      The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was signed into law in 1997. It is a state and federal program that provides health insurance to low-income children.

      Medicaid 2017;Pages. Accessed at US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at https://www.medicaid.gov/about-us/program-history/index.html; September 5, 2017

      In 2017, the affordable care act (ACA) was upheld; enough bipartisan support prevented repeal of the legislation and saved health insurance coverage for 23 million people.

      Office CB. H.R. 1628 American Health Care Act of 2017. May 24, 2017 ed. Washington, DC: US Government. https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/hr1628aspassed.pdf; 2017

      The ACA was influenced by President Barack Obama’s belief that “healthcare is not a privilege for a few, but a right for everybody.” The law eliminated insurers’ ability to discriminate based on patients’ preexisting medical conditions. It increased the number of persons obtaining care, especially among the disadvantaged.
      • Lyon S.M.
      • Douglas I.S.
      • Cooke C.R.
      Medicaid expansion under the affordable care act. Implications for insurance-related disparities in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep.
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        • Squires D.A.
        The U.S. Health System in Perspective: A Comparison of Twelve Industrialed Nations.
        The Commonwealth Fund. 16. 2011: 1-13
      1. US Government CfMaM 1986. Accessed at United States government at https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EMTALA/; September 1, 2017.

      2. U.S. Supreme Court. Estelle v. Gamble. In: U.S. Supreme Court. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/429/97/case.html, 1976

      3. Medicaid 2017;Pages. Accessed at US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at https://www.medicaid.gov/about-us/program-history/index.html; September 5, 2017

      4. Office CB. H.R. 1628 American Health Care Act of 2017. May 24, 2017 ed. Washington, DC: US Government. https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/hr1628aspassed.pdf; 2017

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        • Lyon S.M.
        • Douglas I.S.
        • Cooke C.R.
        Medicaid expansion under the affordable care act. Implications for insurance-related disparities in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep.
        Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014; 11: 661-667
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        Healthcare access as a right, not a privilege: a construct of Western thought.
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