Health Care as a Human Right
US President Barrack Obama is facing one of the most controversial issues in his career as the leader of the nation. The issue regarding health care reform bill he signed on March, 2010, revolves on questions like “Who have the right to health care?”What is the coverage of the new health care system?””Who will pay for the costs of providing health care?”Will the government use the new system to access information on every living American? Then, will we lose our privacy?” These are some of the questions that seem difficult to answer. To answer these questions, there is a need to look back at the root of all these questions. Is health care a human right or a privilege?
On December 10, 1948, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, setting new standards for human rights. Human right is any basic right or freedom to which all human beings are entitled and in whose exercise a government may not interfere (Carmalt, 2004). These rights include social, economic, civil and political rights, such as rights to life and liberty, right to property, right to work, right to social security, as well as freedom of thought and expression and equality before the law. These are the ideal principles that guide the human rights law. The declaration should be able to educate the people of United Nations’ member countries on what is called to be human right or not. The primary purpose of the declaration is to enhance the relationship between each individual and extends to the government of each member nation.
Human right is a universal principle that has become the basis for all international laws implemented by the United Nations. Since 1948, there have been several conventions, declarations and resolutions meant to improve the universality of the declaration. It has been noted in the 1993 Vienna Conference that it is the responsibility of the government to protect and uphold human rights regardless of an individual or group’s social, economic and political status.
Another purpose of the Declaration of Human Rights is to lessen the cause and effects of racial discrimination. It is true that majority of the factors leading to racial discrimination is due to inequality in human rights. The violence accompanying racial discrimination is one thing that governments are trying to prevent or lessen. The universality of human rights is one big factor that brought equality among individuals of different races or origin.
Human right as a universal principle is indivisible. But there are certain instances or situations in which the universality of human rights is limited by certain conditions. In reality, the ideal principle being upheld by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights cannot be fully implemented. There are factors such as funding, costs, political bias, the different points of view of individuals, the constant change in the needs of every individual, etc. One good example that can best explain this situation is the Health Care Reform that has troubled the present United States Government since its declaration.
The beneficiaries of the health care reform cover all American citizens, particularly those 32 million who are uninsured (Jackson, 2010). The uninsured and those in the lower class will be able to obtain insurance particularly those provided by government such as Medicare and Medicaid. Younger Americans who are already insured will still stay in their parent’s plan (Reuters, 2010). The new program will provide insurance for those uninsured adults with pre-existing conditions. In 2011, there will be an incentive for medical personnel. Insured Americans under Medicare program will have an annual visit with no additional costs. There will also be a new program that will provide necessary medical care for the poor under Medicaid. Under the health care reform, employees will also be provided better health insurance which will be provided by their employers. Due to the improved health care system, there will be less spending for prescription drugs and certain types of preventive care (Stefanacci, 2010).
Many have already judged the health care reform even before it came to existence. There is a need to look back at the root of the issue to be able to answer several questions regarding the health care reform. What really is health care? Is it a right or a privilege? Why is it necessary? Who will provide for it? Who benefits from it? These are the root questions needed to be answered in order to answer all other questions.
People’s health has always been a very important factor in a certain society. This is due to the fact that the progress of the society relies mainly on the people itself. This is the reason why almost all leaders in every nation put health on top of their priorities. Counties which are considered to be one of those third world countries have populations who are mostly classified as poor class. People in these countries lack in almost everything especially food that causes their health to be sacrificed thus making their society even poorer. Society and people can be considered as directly proportional. It is the people that keep the society working since they are the only rational being capable of doing things for the improvement of the society. They are the ones who run the society that is why people’s health serves a vital role in the progress of the society. Without having adequate health care for the people, society’s progress is difficult or almost impossible to achieve. Poor people’s production leads to poor society’s economy.
It is true that health care is a right or freedom to which all are entitled and in whose exercise a government may not interfere. It is a human right with as much importance as the rights to life and liberty as well as freedom of thought and expression and equality before the law. It is a fundamental need of a person that must be provided by the government and all private sectors concerned. If all are entitled rights to life, then all people must also be entitled to health insurance without having to go through various paper works and high costs. The application of health care should be done regardless of race, age and social status.
While it is also true that health care is a right of every person, there are circumstances that limit its application. There is no single government that can provide health care for more than 6 billion people all over the world. The racial division makes it improbable to provide health care for all. Or even assuming that a government can do so, which is impossible, that government has its primary concerns. That government will not provide for others until every single person in its domain is provided with health care. On that assumption, many of the people out of that government’s domain would probably be in a worse medical condition or even died. The gap between nations, or the establishment of nations itself is one factor that limits the application of health care for all. In the case of the US’s health care reform, the government excluded the illegal immigrants in its domain due to the risks that would go along with their inclusion. The US is already having trouble with its domain and can no longer afford to include others for the health care coverage.
The United States is currently suffering from recession. It has cost millions of Americans their jobs and caused them to lose their health insurance. Job losses translate to more Americans being eligible to Medicaid. The government faces a huge problem due to this increase in the number of jobless Americans. There has been a significant decrease of taxpayers since more and more Americans are going jobless yet the government must find ways to pay for the growing population of Medicaid-eligible Americans (Marmor, T., 2010).
There has been a constant increase in budget on health care. The government will be expected to face difficulties in handling the budget amidst the growing budget deficit. The US government spends more money on health care than any other nations. In 2006 alone, $2.1 trillion or approximately 16% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was spent on health care alone. The government spent so much but the results were not as what is expected. During this time of increased spending for health care, 45 million Americans were uninsured and lack adequate health care.
The US government, amidst the growing recession, developed strategies to cut costs for the new health care program pushed by the Democrats early this year to be able to widen the scope or coverage of the health care reform. The strategies can be divided into two: First is the improvement of medical practices and health outcomes and second is the changing of the structure of the health care insurance marketplace (Marmor, 2010).
The first strategy focuses on improving the health care being provided by medical personnel. This includes increased research on different field and allowing more medical personnel to specialize in these fields. The increased research and specialization would translate to the prevention and better management of chronic diseases which usually results to disability of a person and even death.
The second strategy focuses on regulating the health care insurance business by allowing health care providers to be more responsible with their subjects. This means that there will be a limitation to the resources that private insurers put into avoiding sales to less healthy customers and charging them much higher premiums (Marmor, 2010). Also, health care providers will be forced to accept an applicant regardless of his health condition. In the health care reform, there will now be a fair market for health insurance. People will have a fair share of health security due to the availability of health care. Human right to health care is fairy reflected in this health care reform of the Obama administration.
Even before the signing of the health care reform it already faced protests from both political and non-political groups. The main argument of the opposition parties is the cost of implementing the new system. They believe that the high allocation of budget for health care is not a solution to the inadequate health care provided by the government and the private sector concerned. Also, the increased taxation for certain Americans is not justifiable since it would seem that there is bias in the implementation of the new system. Wealthier Americans will provide higher tax rates compared to those in the middle and lower class.
One particular sector that opposes the health care reform is the health care insurance business. The new system is unfavourable for health care insurers since there are certain regulations that would decrease their income and increase their costs. There is also a tax component that will be applied to insurance companies in accordance with the new system. The extended coverage will now cover children. More children being covered means more costs for the insurers. In addition, these children will still be included in their parent’s insurance plan. There will be more burdens for them. It is beneficial for those children but not to the health care insurers.
Another movement that greatly opposes the health care reform is the Tea Party movement- a socio-political movement that opposed several government implemented laws like the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Federal Reserve Transparency Act and the Health Care Reform Bills. The Tea Party movement is based on the original Boston Tea Party of 1773, where American colonists protested against the British government acts of monopolizing the importation of tea into their colonies. The colonists were against the dominance of the British government. They lacked representation in the Parliament and they did not like the control being imposed by the British. The protesters showed slogans, images, and themes as a way to show their opposition.
Most of the supporters of the Tea Party movement, commonly called tea partiers, are populist and libertarian. Their judgements are mostly based on popular belief. They are strong supporters of the concept of free will. One of the known supporters of the Tea Party is the Republican congressman Ron Paul who has established the foundations of the modern movement. The movement is also supported by several local and national organizations: The Tea Party Express, a bus run by Russo, Marsh and Associates; the Tea Party Patriots, who have members all over the nation; and, the National tea Party Federation who believes that they are the root of the Tea Party movement.
Majority of present tea partiers are white, male, married, older than 45, and generally wealthier than the general public (Jackson, J., Nolen, J., 2010). The opinions of Tea Party supporters regarding the health care reform is mainly influenced by their social status. They will naturally be against the reform since it imposes higher premiums for people like themselves. They believe that there exists a political bias, giving them higher costs for the same level of insurance. These were some of the factors anti-reformists like the Tea partiers argue that made the new reform less effective in providing health care to all Americans.
It is very evident that there is a huge relationship between the lack of adequate health care and the poor class. There are more people from the poorer class dying due to inadequate health care compared to the middle class. This is primarily because there are more people from the middle class that can afford health care insurance. They have the means to provide themselves with adequate health care. Majority of the poorer class do not have insurance. In case of emergencies, they will even be denied with adequate health care since they cannot afford to pay for the hospital and other expenses. The priorities of medical personnel are those who can pay for their services rendered. That is how things work.
Ideally, health care is a human right that should be provided by every government to every individual in its domain. Every living person is entitled to proper health care. Every individual should have a fair share of the medical services rendered. But in reality, the implementation of adequate health care for all seems to be an improbability due to certain limiting conditions. People have different points of view regarding health care. Everyone is trying to find the benefits they can get. If they know they will benefit from it, they will be happy to accept it. Otherwise, that is when people go to the streets and fight for their own rights.
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