The health of an individual affects his/her immediate environment, family and work. People’s wellbeing and happiness are rooted to their quality of health (Leppo, Ollila, Peña, Wismar & Cook, 2013). The strength of a company or country is directly related to the quality of health of its members. “Governments have a responsibility to the health of their peoples which can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social measures” (WHO, 2006). The WHO also says that without differentiation of race, gender, religion, beliefs or socioeconomic status, health is to be enjoyed at the highest possible standard as a fundamental right (2006). Healthcare is a right as fundamental as the right to life.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everybody has a right to a standard of living adequate to his health and that of his family including medical care and security in the event of sickness or disability (Teitelbaum & Wilensky, 2013). The US approach to healthcare as a legal right is only seen under the Emergency Treatment and Women in Labor Act (EMTALA. Some other developed countries have achieved universal health coverage because healthcare is addressed in their constitutions (Teitelbaum & Wilensky, 2013).
Health as a legal right impacts some stakeholders such as the public (patient), healthcare providers, policy makers and private insurance companies. A legal right to healthcare positively impacts the public as there will be availability and access to healthcare for them. Healthcare providers would have more patients/clients and depending on the details of the health policy, more income and support from government. Appreciation from the general public would have a positive impact on policy makers as opposed to an enraged community (Teitelbaum & Wilensky, 2013, p7). However, private insurance companies may not be too pleased with a legal health right policy.
Laws and policies change over the years as well as public health policies. Public health law professionals have a duty to ensure that whatever public health laws are endorsed have a positive impact on health disparities across the nation.
What do you think, is healthcare a right or a privilege to you, or in your country?