Is Healthcare a Basic Human Right: Fighting Discrimination
Persistent healthcare inequities with either the class of an individual or specific groups of people continue to plague medical treatment and health care institutions. Structural forms of segregation and discrimination that remain today include barriers in accessing needed health care, creating disparity, and medical inequality. What is prevalent is related research within identified sectors which classification in these domains is inheriting suboptimal care and low-grade medical services. When considering the discrimination, inequalities, and disparities, the policy has yet to address these differential issues in the subsets with medical treatment and our healthcare system. The argument becomes the determinants to medical care and our healthcare systems, what is considered morally justifiable over the morally debatable for Health System Reform. Everyone should have equality and access to medical care and services. Moreover, health care should constitute a basic human right of life, including reducing human rights violations with healthcare inequalities and promoting general welfare in the health and well-being of people.
The empirical debate over healthcare for all people as a right has been ongoing for decades in a designed system to deny not support the right to health. This virtue of humanity diminished by the impact of discrimination, stigmatization, and social exclusion have been progressively documented, including disparities and inequalities by definition in the healthcare system. With healthcare industry costs rising, a struggling population in health inequality is now widely considered a public health problem. Disparity, by definition, is the difference in treatment provided to members of a class of the individual or different group, indicative to the prevalent health conditions or treatment preference in medical care to the patient. As a result, even into today, Americans still experience a healthcare divide to what each individual deserves versus a privilege only for those who can afford it.
The body of research on discrimination and healthcare politics recognizes that an individual’s socioeconomic status, cultural factors, and attitudes contribute to disparities in healthcare — moreover, key associations stemming from other social factors being geography, socioeconomic status and insurance. Greater economic inequality is associated with worse health through multiple mechanisms, including increased social distances between rich and poor people residing in the same community, and increased disparities in access to healthcare (Dmitry Tumin, 2018). Socioeconomic status should not create unaffordable or disproportionate barriers in greater access to medical care and healthcare treatment. Health systems need to meet the needs not only of those who can or have affordability and access but all marginalized groups of individuals.
To this day, segments of the population experience broad ambiguity and injustice with underlying principles and values in health equity. Lack of advocating clarity and standards for the different definitions of health disparities or inequalities continues to be a pragmatic consideration struggling to commit to recognizing human rights and ethical principles. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in its landmark Unequal Treatment report defined racial and ethnic disparities as all differences in health care use except for the differences in clinical need, clinical appropriateness, and patient preferences (Adam I. Biener Ph.D., 2019). Van Ryn and Burke (2000) found that—. Even after adjusting for patient age, sex, socioeconomic status, sickness or frailty and overall health, and patient availability of social support—physicians viewed black patients, compared with whites, as less kind, congenial, intelligent, and educated, less likely to adhere to medical advice, and more likely to lack social support and to abuse alcohol and drugs (US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 2019). These disadvantages by themselves collectively are only a subset of health differences reflecting social injustice, moreover, ethical, and human rights principle detriments to healthcare.
According to CMS (Centers for Medicare Services), ‘Because discriminatory behavior can affect perceived and actual access to and effectiveness of healthcare delivery, we propose to establish explicit requirements that a hospital not discriminate— moreover, that hospitals establish and implement a written policy prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity), age, or disability’ (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2019). There should be no reason for different levels of medical care that needs to be provided nor lack of capacity to distribute resources efficiently. Moreover, factors differentiating underlying health and treatment needs regardless of health insurance coverage or financial status from marginalized groups of individuals. Recognizing these disparities or inequalities in healthcare, individual health providers and professionals have an obligation in awareness to mitigate unconscious biases disparities in healthcare. The healthcare industry and medical care providers reducing prohibited exclusion, systemic sources of discrimination, and denials in care can create transformation. Moreover, distinguishing efforts exerting a powerful influence on health status and health disparities improving the health system, making it genuinely meet the communities they serve.
‘No society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means’ (British Journal of Nursing, 2018). There is no justifiable reason in believing insurance, not health, is a right nor placed in a competitive disadvantage. There is no justifiable reason in marginalizing segments of any population, condoning human suffering and depriving another’s human right; moreover, imploring an equity ‘system’ that in its very nature profits are based on insurance rather than the well-being and health of individuals. There is no justifiable reason to create detrimental financial cost-related barriers to care, including the propensity to neglect to recognize the society-wide inequality in income, education, and healthcare access as a fundamental condition. Health disparities are systematic, plausibly, avoidable health differences adversely affecting socially disadvantaged groups (American Journal of Public Health, 2011). As a society, we should be morally compelled to address the determinants of health as it is intersectional and crucial to have a healthcare system not become an existential threat in one’s life nor the unattainable quality of life for physical and mental health.
Negative perceptions of healthcare in general, and perceptions of discrimination in particular, influence when and how people seek care, whether they engage in health-protective behaviors, their willingness to follow medical advice and their levels of psychological distress, self-esteem and mental health (National Research Council, 2004, Sorokin et al., 2010, Williams and Mohammed, 2009). Many of us have stories experienced or witnessed to the crippling impact of poor health and treatment of care on well-being, whether from our own experiences or of those around us. There is no reason to allow the denial of a right to health and fundamental right to live lives of dignity. Congress, the Healthcare System and medical providers must explicitly recognize and eliminate discriminatory barriers, including recognizing biases where economic and income disparities are prevalent. Importantly, ‘We the People’ should feel compelled in a role contributing to reduce health inequalities and improve population health, especially in this day and age. To allow the exercise of one human right, while segregating and oppressing another—completely defeats the crucial principles of ‘We the People’ experiencing universality and interdependence.
Many hold a perspective and belief that if you are sick, you should not deny treatment, but public health care is not an option to be considered. Additionally, adamantly feel that there are other ways to offer health services to the segment of individuals who do not have health insurance. Ronald Reagan spoke on the subject during a powerful radio address in 1961 stating ‘one of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine, and once socialized medicine is instituted, behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom.’ Reagan went on to explain how government-run health care would be another ‘encroachment on … individual liberties and freedoms’ (John Merline, 2015). With the understanding that there is a fine line between a ‘right’ and a provision, many argue that it is not the government’s responsibility to manage and ‘promote the general welfare’. not to provide it as stated in the preamble and purpose of the US Constitution.
Though there is no guarantee nor a right to be healthy, there is a vast difference between health insurance and health care. Worse yet, right to health care contingent upon our financial abilities, including perpetuated discrimination whether the racial, ethnic or individualized association of groups have been experienced in the present system. Understanding the sources of disparities in health and health care requires employing a multi-level approach that moves beyond reductionism (Corey M.Abramson, 2015). The Healthcare System, medical providers, and Congress must explicitly recognize and eliminate discriminatory barriers, including recognizing biases where economic and income disparities are prevalent. We already know health care saves lives; it adds to a quality of life we all strive to the best of our abilities to live.
- Dmitry Tumin. April 2018. Local Income Inequality, Individual Socioeconomic Status, and Unmet Healthcare Needs in Ohio, USA. https://doaj.org/article/9cb3349b17cc441a8fdcf1afe160fba6
- Adam I. Biener Ph.D. 2019. Testing for Statistical Discrimination in Health Care.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361135
- US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. 2019. (Van Ryn and Burke (2000). Understanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life: A Research Agenda. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK24693
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2019. ‘Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Hospital and Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Changes To Promote Innovation, Flexibility, and Improvement in Patient Care.’ https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/publications/gpsolo_ereport/2017/march_2017/respecting_gender_identity_healthcare_regulatory_requirements_recommendations_treating_transgender_patients/
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