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Healthcare access as a right, not a privilege: a construct of Western thought

Author(s): Papadimos Thomas

Journal: Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine
ISSN 1747-5341

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 2;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Abstract Over 45 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured. Those living in poverty exhibit the worst health status. Employment, education, income, and race are important factors in a person's ability to acquire healthcare access. Having established that there are people lacking healthcare access due to multi-factorial etiologies, the question arises as to whether the intervention necessary to assist them in obtaining such access should be considered a privilege, or a right. The right to healthcare access is examined from the perspective of Western thought. Specifically through the works of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Paine, Hannah Arendt, James Rawls, and Norman Daniels, which are accompanied by a contemporary example of intervention on behalf of the medically needy by the The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute. As human beings we are all valuable social entities whereby, through the force of morality, through implicitly forged covenants among us as individuals and between us and our governments, and through the natural rights we maintain as individuals and those we collectively surrender to the common good, it has been determined by nature, natural laws, and natural rights that human beings have the right, not the privilege, to healthcare access.
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