DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

The Right to Health: An Argumentative Essay


            Health care and human rights are problematic topics of debate and policy-making in every country. The areas of health care and human rights are present and problematic in every country. However It is not often enough, however, that these two subjects coincide and pose the question of whether health care should be considered a human right. To fully understand the argument for health care being adopted as a human right it is necessary to examine the different moral, political and economic perspectives of the issue. This exploration comes in the form of requires historical background information, international examples, and the analysis of legislation regarding the two issues. While the US is currently going through a transition into a form of universal health care, there has yet to be a mention of human rights in any key domestic legislative documents showing that there still is a need to address the underlying principles that the switch to universal health care should be based on. The words key and legislative I felt were needed to identify the qualifiers.

            There is a long history of arguing for “natural rights”, and an earlier term for human rights, going all the way back to a philosopher of the 12th century named Thomas Aguina and popularized by John Locke in the 16th century. The three authors, Eberl, Kinney and Williams who wrote the “Foundation for a Natural Right to Health Care” give an overview of define natural rights and laws based on the philosophical foundation of Thomas Aguina’s philosophical foundation. This definition “includes a set of principles which, if followed, will satisfy a human being’s natural inclinations and thus lead to their perfection according to their nature as a human being.” The human law that should follow this “is the determination of general natural law principles made by human legislators using practical judgment” (Eberl 538).” Johnathan Wolff also references philosopher John Locke’s parallel beliefs concerning human rights in his novel.

            Both  The ideas of these key figures, Aguina and Locke, have helped establish the ideas behind international documents today pertaining to human rights. Using concrete definitions from revered philosophers is a good approach to introducing what is a widely accepted view of what a natural right can be characterized by. The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are the most pivotal international documents that the United Nation’s has drafted. and Every country that is a part of the United Nations’ treaty, including the US, is expected to uphold both of them. This treaty includes the United States of America. More specifically, these documents state that the three duties obligations that a State, or the governing body of a country has, These are the obligations to respect, protect and fulfill people’s natural human rights (Eberl 540).  

            The general definition of natural rights may be useful, but Wolff asks the question of whether these “fine words” or natural rights have substance. He suggests that a human rights doctrine is a broadly liberal and somewhat ideological framework, because it assumes that everyone every nation acknowledges the same basic morals (Wolff 230), when in fact different nations have very different understandings of these. The addition of this is meant to clarify. Pointing out the lack of specificity in the term “human rights” This is valid because of how unspecific rights can be, but doesn’t change that the excerpts from these international documents do give those three specific duties to the governing bodies. Wolff also voices a common criticism that because the rights obligations spelled out by the United Nations only apply to the countries that have signed the treaty, they are only values that are appropriate in some parts of the world. This would mean they are natural rights stemming largely from Western values. This generality can also be looked at in a different light; that it  the definitions actually can apply to humans of all backgrounds and cultures because it is so broad (Eberl 542).

            Before the drafting and implementation of the new health care reform bill, America was in a state of dissatisfaction with its health care system.  Kingson and Cornman’s article, written in 2009, is a look into the United States’ health care system before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Their statistics show the level of dissatisfaction of the American people with the system. The EBRI’s 2006 confidence survey reported that 59% of Americans rated the country’s health care system as “poor” (Kingson 1). The survey and authors say this is due to the lack of accessibility, affordability, acceptability and quality of health care in the US at the time. Senator Edward M. Kennedy similarly wrote in 2009 about the current state of the US health care system. His statistics also show that the cost of health care was over two trillion dollars in 2008, and yet the US was ranked 37th in health outcomes by the World Health Organization (Kennedy np). These statistics are effective in the demonstration of how demonstrated that the US clearly was in need of a huge change in its health care system. Meanwhile, Kingson and Cornman also answer the question of explain why the American people and government have had not already agreed upon a form of universal health care. America, historically, has distrust in large government programs and a fear of changing from the status quo. However Kingson and Cornman believe argue that by looking at other democratic and industrialized nations, it is apparent that universal health care is “feasible and necessary” (Kingson 40). This article does not go into many details of the health care systems of other nations, but the book Health of Nationshelps fill in the gaps. This sentence needed to be reworded and also seemed like a better transition sentence for the beginning of the following paragraph.

            Laurene A. Graig’s Health of Nations helps fill in the details of the health care systems that Kingson and Cornman are referring to. Specifically, this book Graig looks at the health care systems of six industrialized nations: the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and the United Kingdom. The author, Laurene A. Graig, When she compares and contrasts the systems but also realizes she recognizes that none of them are completely applicable to the United States; She recognizes the fact that each country has many differences in structure, so for the US to use adopt any of their  those systems’ structures and methods they must be modified to fit this country’s conditions. The structures of these countries may be quite different, but And yet the challenges in health care challenges they each nation faces face are very similar, and mostly include revolve around the balancing of costs, quality and access to care (Graig 7). Her claim is that all of the countries she has studied have developed a more cost-conscious model of care and base their systems on the rule that individuals must contribute corresponding to their ability to pay (Graig 126). According to Kingson and Cornman, this is the opposite of what America had; the US model where health care was has been available only to those who can pay and there was has been a large issue problem of costly and unnecessary care specifically in the last year of life (Kingson 41). These other industrialized countries have also retained their status policies of universal health care even while using American style cost control measures. This is her main point that which parallels Kingson and Cornman’s conclusion: that access for all and affordable care are in fact possible together and America can learn from these experiences of other countries. The revisions in this paragraph mostly have to do with changes in word choices and sentence order.

            When looking at health care and human rights as one issue, the United Nations human rights documents are the pieces that dictate what is expected from the countries as part of the treaty, including the US. The authors of a “Foundation for a Natural Right to Health Care” and Johnathan Wolff find review every excerpt from both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that combines both subjects. Both of these texts include Article 25 from the UDHR, which states that: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control” (Eberl 540). Proffessor Lyon noted that using a block quote for this would not be appropriate. This article was drafted in 1948 when the world was still recovering from the damage of World War II and in a dire need of cooperation between countries. The UDHR is much more influential now because of how human equity is a much more recognized value. Value was added to clarify. They The two texts also include refer to Article 12 of the ICESCR that states “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” (Eberl 542). These documents specifically spell out that health is considered a human right and the authors of “The Foundation…” believe that the US should be a follower of this, although the country has not ratified this specific part. An ethicist Noman Daniels of Harvard University proposes that this standard of good health is imperative in the fulfillment of the human condition and being someone who can contribute to the workings of society (Eberl 546). Similarly, Lance Gable expresses that “a strong health system is an essential element of a healthy and equitable society” (Gable 254). Those who are not in a healthy condition are not able to make a living and consequently pay for their health care. Therefore it is in a country’s best interests to protect, respect and lastly fulfill its citizens right to health if it strives to be successful. Kingson and Cornman writers do recognize the economic and political challenges when of implementing these rights into a country’s structure national policy. The content of the What constitutes this right to health is hard to specify, and varies according to given a country’s resource limitations and health needs. But going back to the morals of the issue, Gable states  “issues of cost and complexity should not render human rights any less fundamental” (Gable 260).

            The perspective of a health care provider or nurse is also valuable when assessing the moral aspects of issues associated with making health care a human right. Historically, the American Nurses Association has viewed the human right to health as a priority. "The Nurse's Role in Ethics and Human Rights: Protecting and Promoting Individual Worth, Dignity, and Human Rights in Practice Settings" is the position statement of the AMA, written by the Center for Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board. Among other topics covered in this statement are goes through the codes of ethics that nurses are supposed to abide by. A board member James Benatar suggests that nurses should even “go beyond the rhetoric of universal human rights to include attention to duties, social justice, and interdependence (“The Nurse’s Role.. 3). They The position statement says that justice and caring are the two main components of a nurse’s role in a health system. Nurse’s “fundamental responsibilities to promote health, prevent disease, and alleviate suffering call for the expression of caring for humanity and environment through political activism at local, national and international levels (“The Nurse’s Role.. 3).” Nurses believe in first handedly serving the people of America, something that the government cannot do. Having a this workforce that gives care directly to the people believe so strongly in the right to health further strengthens the argument of for combining the issue of human rights and health care. More importantly When a health care systems main most important employees adhere to an ethics code that includes this right, naturally the entire system as a whole should do the same. Nurses believe in first handedly serving the people of America, something that the government cannot do. The individual nurse is a small but key player in the application of human rights in health care and the new health care reform act. This paragraph was added to add a much needed perspective to the issue.

            As Lance Gable claims, President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a huge step in the process of toward providing universal healthcare to its citizens. The competing argument focuses more on the supremacy of the issue. But the opponents to the act say it gives too much power to the government. They have This act has even been named the act pejoratively “Obamacare” pejoratively to highlight the current president’s role in drafting the law and the unnecessary additional power it gives him and his administration. It supposedly gives the “power” regarding the ability to provide and control health care to Washington or the government instead of patients and families. The dozens of mandates, taxes and provisions congregates power in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to Owcharenko the act “creates a giant network for the federal micromanagement of health plans, benefits, insurance markets, and unprecedented intervention into the details of health care financing and the delivery of medical care (Owcharenko 1)”. However this government agency’s main purpose is to protect the health of Americans and provide health services. Protecting the health of the citizens of a country is a point that the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states is a duty that the governing body has. Giving more power to this government agency, then, is putting puts more emphasis on this duty and adhering more to international policies human rights obligations. Therefore this aspect of the act should be applauded instead of criticized. According to Owcharenko this “creates a giant network for the federal micromanagement of health plans, benefits, insurance markets, and unprecedented intervention into the details of health care financing and the delivery of medical care (Owcharenko 1)”.

           Critics of the act contradict themselves when they argue, first, against creation of a giant network and second, that only a system built on This statement is in the opposition to the new health care reform bill, however another arguer of non-universal health care states that the unity and cooperation of the government, employers, providers and insurers is necessary to provide the citizens of America with effective health care coverage (Forman 127). These statements are contradictory, showing the flaws in A health care system that has “unity” in the organizations that control it but not universal access or appropriate distribution of care. Also according to Moffit, an author of the same journal as Owcharenko does against Obamacare, the new insurance mandates applying negative reinforcement to citizens to buy health insurance “threatens increased numbers of uninsured, more cost-shifting and further market destabilization” (Moffit 5). This cannot be true when there are additional provisions making the insurance buying process much easier and the act as a wholesets up a more unified system that includes the market for health care. 

The paragraph above was added after the discovery draft when it was pointed out that I really was lacking a paragraph dedicated to the counter argument. This gap forced me to find another source that could address these issues. I ended up finding a source that was a journal comprised of over ten different sections all devoted to a separate issue that the new health care reform bill had according to the authors. This source was very helpful because I was able to outline the issues and then form a point to refute them. The first draft I constructed of the argumentative essay included this paragraph, but it was commented on that I still had left out some opposing points. I also split the paragraph into two separate paragraphs to show the opposing arguements and then more opposition with additional information refuting those facts.

           Gable’s detailed synopsis of this new act shows us all the ways the country is attempting to greatly increase the accessibility, acceptability and quality that Kingson and Cornman claim were the central problems in America’s health care system. Low and moderate-income families without access to employer sponsored insurance will now receive tax credits to help pay for their insurance. Services such as cancer and depression screenings, vaccinations, and birth control will now be with free with insurance plans. These services are vital when it comes to prevention and in turn the public health of a nation. Each state will now have a simple online health insurance exchange that allows patients to find and compare insurance plans. Insurance companies will now have to justify any raise of premiums and states have the power to block them those raises. Insurance companies will also not be able to charge higher premiums because of a woman’s gender, which was very common before.  All of these provisions, according to Gable, have very promising effects on public health (Gable 256).

            Yet however while this act makes health care coverage more “universal” and available to all, there is no mention in it of health care as a rights. Gable suggests that this is due to how controversial human rights can be in the US, which has a because of its history of domestic political and philosophical disagreement over the role of government (Gable 260). Even without such explicit wording, asserts Paul T. Menzel, does assert that the act shows that the US has accepted the moral values that the costs of illness should be justly shared and that everyone should contribute to the nation’s health care costs.of a just sharing of the costs of illness and a prevention of free riding. The new insurance mandate will prevent patients from getting a ‘free ride’ this free riding because people are essentially required to have a plan, and the  while government subsidies will lessen the burden of cost for low-income people and dramatically lower, as the number of uninsured Americans will dramatically lower decrease (Menzel 594). Despite this progress, there still is no human law made by American legislators stemming that stems from natural rights and using uses practical judgment. This hole in the new legislation is why the United State’s health care system remains fundamentally unjust. The new health care reform and should be improved by adding a provision adapting health care as a human right into the new health care reform before its complete implementation in 2014. 


The revisions is pink mostly had to do with word choice and sentence structure. However there also was a need for the clarification and longer explanations for some words. There were some confusing sentences which I revised so they actually contributed to my arguement instead of confusing the audience.


While others may have thought that crafting over four drafts of one paper was unnecessary and time consuming, I believe these consecutive drafts all helped me create the best final product I possibly could. In high school, my problem with writing was that I only would create one or two drafts of my work, and not really read over what I had written. WRD 103 was the first class that I actually changed the way I approached my writing. I started my drafts far in advance and would work on them for small amounts of time. Each time I would begin to add more and revise I would read over the draft again. WRD 104 really gave me more instances to practice these techniques. The way the course was outlined also gave me a more structured way to apply them. Each draft I would approach with the mindset that I was going to craft it to the best of my ability. However having to look through them numerous times and then be forced to revise and add over and over again really gave me a greater understanding of what I was writing. By the time I got to this last revision, it was obviously harder to find pieces to add to and revise. However this gave me a greater confidence in the work I was turning in because of how much time was spent on perfecting and completing the piece.

This adheres to the first year writing goal of being able to "recognize and articulate the value of using multiple drafts to create and complete a successful text, exhibit flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proof-reading, and demonstrate understanding that writing is an open process that permits writers to use later invention and re-thinking to revise their work." These drafts involved the statement of my own convincing argument in the form of the thesis and conclusions which was developed from my extensive research.



DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.