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Healthcare Is A Right Not A Privalege

1146 words - 5 pages

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Arguments to support that access to adequate health care is a right can developed around the United States Constitution, the idea of liberty, and the responsibility of nursing to promote health. When looking at what happens when health care is not provided, it is clear that denied access to health care not only increases illness and mortality rates for those who aren’t cared for, but also uses up communal resources and ultimately impacts the quality of care of all citizens. Natural rights are rights that pertain to a person’s right to exist, such as a person’s right to “pursue comfort and happiness as long as the rights of others are not injured” (Papadimos, 2007). These rights are in line with the Hippocratic Oath and the ethical obligation of nurses and other health care workers to help others, regardless of economic status. Therefore, access to health care should be considered a right, not a privilege.
On July 4, 1776, congress signed the Declaration of Independence. In its prose, it states “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” (U.S. 1776). Without access to healthcare, how can a person achieve their rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Health dictates quality of life. Therefore, the right to life, liberty and happiness can be interpreted to include access to healthcare.
Discussions for national health care began as early as 1912. President Theodore Roosevelt included national health care in his presidential candidate platform, and President Lyndon Johnson went on to sign Medicare into law in 1965 (Medicare Resource Center, 2011). The initiation of Medicare shows that much of the nation supports widespread healthcare access. Having been signed into law for almost fifty years now, the system is and not yet perfected by any means. Medicare alone poses such a financial disaster for the country, so it is quite discerning to imagine the long term effects of the Affordable Care Act.
When healthcare is not available to certain populations, society as a whole is impacted. Public health suffers when people do not have access to healthcare. “Poverty and the placement of people within the margins of society are key factors in the determination of public health,” (Butts & Rich, 2013, p. 329).  Imagine a diabetic that doesn’t monitor and treat blood sugars, a patient with hypertension who doesn’t control their blood pressure, or an elderly person on a fixed income who doesn’t seek treatment for pneumonia. All of these people have something in common; a lack of access and or the ability to pay for healthcare. What happens to these people? Chances are, they eventually end up in the emergency department, admitted to the hospital, or they die. If they receive care, the cost of this care is absorbed by those who are...

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