Health Care in the U.S.
Everyone has the right to health, including health care, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Health care is a public good, not a commodity. The U.S. health care system must fulfill these principles:
- Universality: Everyone in the United States has the human right to health care.
- Equity: Benefits and contributions should be shared fairly to create a system that works for everyone.
- Accountability: The U.S. government has a responsibility to ensure that care comes first.
On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that by 2019, approximately 32 million additional people will have health insurance after full implementation of the law, leaving 23 million people still uninsured. Many of the newly insured will be covered via mandated, and publicly subsidized, purchase of insurance from private, for-profit companies. Others will be newly covered via expansion of Medicaid, the public insurance program for those with low incomes. The law also prohibits insurance companies from charging women more than men for the same insurance coverage, and from excluding people from coverage due to "pre-existing conditions". Another notable provision of the law doubles funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers, which operate in areas with provider shortages.
The impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is examined in the one-year update to our report on the U.S. maternal health care crisis, Deadly Delivery. More comprehensive human rights analysis of health care reform is available from the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative's Human Right to Health Program.