Is Health Care a Right?

is health care a right

People generally agree that everyone deserves access to medical treatment they require; however, when discussing whether health care should be considered a right, many different perspectives come into play – both political and economic aspects, as well as ethical/moral considerations of this debate come into play.

The right to health is a fundamental human right recognized under international law and various declarations. These statements define health as “The enjoyment of the highest achievable standard of physical, mental and social well-being without disease or infirmity”.

Nations that ratify international treaties have an obligation to their citizens and uphold their rights, such as protecting healthcare as an essential right in its constitution. Although healthcare services may not be an explicit right, such programs such as Medicare and Medicaid do offer some level of coverage to general populations as well as prisoners and military members.

Many Americans do not consider health care to be a right; rather, they view it as something to be paid for with limited funds. One method used by individuals or employers to cover healthcare costs in America is through insurance: either privately purchased, union benefits offered through union membership or senior citizen discounts.

When it comes to whether healthcare should be considered a basic right, one’s answer depends heavily on one’s views on government and social welfare. For those who believe healthcare is not an entitlement, they typically advocate for free market solutions while those who consider healthcare to be a basic human right often support government-provided distribution of resources as the preferred approach.

Both points of view offer advantages and disadvantages; sometimes these may even be combined to form a hybrid approach to healthcare. For instance, some may believe the government should provide basic coverage while others think specialized treatments may be more efficient.

No matter one’s opinion on the matter, it is essential to recognize both viewpoints have their roots in American politics and history. Franklin Delano Roosevelt first proposed healthcare should be considered a right in 1944 when writing his Second Bill of Rights. Roosevelt wanted his bill to contain ambitious economic and social guarantees for Americans, such as access to affordable healthcare. Unfortunately, Roosevelt’s death prevented this plan from ever being realized. But regardless, healthcare as a right gained momentum at the United Nations and remains relevant today. Indeed, this right has been included as one of several basic human rights in its constitution – alongside free speech, religion and life rights.

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