Is Health Care a Right or a Privilege?
Imagine that it is late at night and you wake up suddenly, struggling to breathe. You realize immediately that your symptoms are severe—this is not a common cold. Unsure of what to do, you call a loved one who insists on driving you to a hospital emergency room. Assume, for the purposes of this example, that you are a U.S. citizen. While you are registering for emergency services, you notice a sign prominently displayed, declaring that you have the right to medical screening and stabilization in the case of emergency or labor, even if you do not have health insurance. This is a provision of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which you explore in more detail in this week’s reading.
You may be surprised to learn that Americans have no legal right to health care, as established through extensive legal precedent. In fact, EMTALA represents the only health care rights guaranteed to Americans.
The United States is one of the only high-income nations that does not guarantee health care as a fundamental right, and it is the only developed nation that has not implemented a system for insuring at least all but the wealthiest segment of its population against healthcare costs. . . . In terms of national constitutions, a 2004 survey reported that some two-thirds of constitutions address health or health care, and that almost all of these do so in universal terms. (Teitelbaum and Wilensky, 2013, p. 108)
However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2013), 15% of the U.S. population was uninsured in the years immediately preceding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Therefore, except in specific situations (such as those regulated by EMTALA), 48 million people did not have access to health care. Furthermore, according to the same report, family income was strongly correlated to a family’s access to health care. Whereas 75.1% of families with an annual income less than $25,000 were insured, 92.1% of families earning $75,000 or more per year were insured.
These figures may trouble you from a social perspective, but remember that there are many stakeholders in public health. A patient’s perspective is but one of the many you must consider as a public health professional. In this Discussion, you explore whether health care is a right or a privilege.
Student Tips for Discussions
Academic discussions provide a forum to share insights with your colleagues as you encounter new content. Discussion supports a discovery learning experience that facilitates a deeper understanding of content from multiple viewpoints. To ensure that your contributions to the Discussion posts and responses are timely, relevant, insightful, and engaging, keep the following in mind as you post:
- Be sure to review and follow the rubric for Discussion assignments.
- Engage in the Discussion as early as possible and continue to post throughout the week.
- Design your posts to elicit multiple points of view from your colleagues.
- Validate your assertions with references to credible sources.
This Discussion will be available from Day 1 through Day 7 of this week. You are required to submit your initial post by Day 3. You are encouraged to post early. Once you have submitted your initial post, start engaging in a discussion with your colleagues. Begin engaging with your colleagues by no later than Day 5 and continue to interact frequently with your colleagues through Day 7. Part of what makes a Discussion a discussion and not a lecture is the back and forth, in-depth, animated interaction of at least two people. If you start a topic and none of your colleagues are responding, consider what you can do to get the conversation going. Include something that would elicit further thoughts and different opinions from colleagues. Validate your opinions with references and links to the sources you used so that your colleagues can read them for themselves. Refer to your Discussion rubric in the Course Information area of the course navigation menu for specific grading requirements.
Post initial responses to the topic by Day 3. Do you believe that health care is a right or a privilege? What is the legal basis for your view? Draw from the readings to consider stakeholder interests (including, but not limited to, policymakers, public and private health care providers, and insurance companies). If you are an international student, you may want to consider local health care systems as you construct your post.
Begin engaging with your colleagues by participating in the Discussion by no later than Day 5.Continueengaging in the Discussion through Day 7. In your responses, contribute multiple meaningful, substantive ideas, suggestions, and insights on the focus topic. Present your written contributions in a polished, professional manner with scholarly support.
Support your work with specific citations from this week’s Learning Resources and additional scholarly sources as appropriate. Refer to the Essential Guide to APA Style for Walden Students to ensure that your in-text citations and reference list are correct.
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