Is the US More Guilty of Violating Human Rights in Relation to Healthcare than Developing Nations, because it has the Ability to Provide but Refuses to?

It is interesting that as we discuss in class whether or not healthcare is a basic human right or if it is more of a civil right, the US Supreme Court is debating whether or not government can require people to purchase healthcare insurance, thus in some ways requiring them to access healthcare. After our discussions in class it seems crazy that anyone would try to interfere in the providing of better health. The greatest concern is that if the individual mandate is struck down, it is quite possible that the rest of the Affordable Care Act will have to be done away with as well. If this happens the United States healthcare system will be in great disarray and healthcare will become even harder to access and afford in the United States. Please view the video link below for a synopsis of the court hearings today.

Affordable Healthcare Act Debate

One of the most interesting matters that is not as greatly discussed is the idea that the demand for states to expand medicaid could possibly be deemed unconstitutional. The expansion of medicaid is in effort to further provide access to and availability of healthcare to low income citizens. If the Supreme Court rules this unconstitutional it is in direct opposition of the what has been established as the Right to Health by the UN, which the US has signed but not ratified.

As we discuss the rights to healthcare worldwide, I find what is unraveling here in the US often even more appalling. Here we are, one of the most wealthy, influential, and powerful nations in the world and we refuse to provide our citizens with the ability to access basic healthcare. The US is a world leader in medicine and has plentiful doctors, facilities, infrastructure, and medicine yet we do not provide all those incapable of paying with healthcare. How can we expect developing nations that lack all the advantages our nation carelessly takes for granted to even attempt providing healthcare when we so blatantly refuse to?

What is even further disturbing about the healthcare in the US is the disparities that have not been addressed. Infant mortality rate is often used as an indicator of the overall health of a society. The US has a considerably higher rate than comparable nations, but although we have managed to decrease the rate, the rate of infant mortality among black citizens is twice as high than that of whites.

The US is violating so many basic rights in relation to healthcare access and its citizens seem not to be engaged enough to care and protect their own rights.

  1. philipalcabes said:

    This is a great post from Abby, dealing with a profoundly troubling problem: The country whose policies are supposed to promote human rights is not really very good at making health care available to its own citizens!

    On one view, it seems crazy that the Obama administration’s health care reform act — really a reform of health insurance, not health care — might be overturned, since it gives more health insurance to more people and therefore provides more access to the medical care system.

    On another view, though, you might ask whether it’s good enough, from a human rights perspective, merely to provide more health insurance. Requiring everyone to buy health insurance, and making it possible for poor people to afford it, are ways of getting more insurance to more people. But some would argue that that’s not the same as getting more care to more people. Or better care.

    And of course others argue that health insurance, or access to medical treatment, isn’t really a right that the federal government should be concerning itself with.

    What do you think?

  2. jewelwint said:

    This is a very interesting post and it is an ongoing debate at my job’s break table! By requiring all US citizens to have health insurance, that does not mean that all US citizens will receive the benefits that should come with that insurance card. Giving more people access to the medical care system in my opinion will not lead to quality health care; I believe that it will lead to a more profit driven health care system.

    The Institute of Medicine holds that quality health care should be effective, safe, timely, patient centered, equitable and efficient. Before approving the Obama administration’s health care reform act, we need to get these characteristics to be main priorities in the health care system that we currently have.

  3. jaredb said:

    I too see this as an interesting debate, and it is one of the topics in mainstream news that I follow more closely. Last semester I took a class that dove into the topic of health care reform head first, and really helped to clarify man of the issues. My overall conclusion at the end of the semester is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a well written piece of legislation that seems to take into account many of the issues that arise when contemplating the current medical delivery system in the US.

    Here is a good overview of the act:

    While I do have some issues with the mandate (I don’t like the idea of requiring citizens to purchase health insurance out of pocket), I do see the benefit of a large risk pool. The risk pool spreads the cost of coverage over a larger population. As far as the unconstitutionality of Medicare expansion, the truth is that the expansion will largely be paid for by the Federal Government for the first several years, and slowly shift to the responsibility of States. At the center of this issue is the establishment of a federal income standard for Medicare eligibility, the issue that arises is the perceived usurping of States rights by the Federal Government. My perspective is that a federal standard would benefit the largest number of people. Ultimately I feel that an insurance system that provides universal coverage, where the government is the single payer, would be less costly and more effective, the PPACA makes strides toward improving health care coverage in the nation.

    I understand that health is very different than health insurance, but in the current system there is some relation between the two, I believe that the PPACA is a benefit to the health of the nations citizens.

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