Documents on Healthcare as a Human Right


The state has a number of obligations to citizens, predetermined by the need to realize human rights. However, due to the fact that the conditions can be interpreted in different ways, there is an ambiguous characterization, for example, of health care. How has health care and coverage changed over the last century to support the need for universal healthcare being a human right? How can the language of the founding documents be interpreted to support the right to government-sponsored healthcare? What positive and negative rights arguments support the right to life and universal healthcare? It is necessary to determine whether health care is a human right or is one of the effective tools for implementing and improving the quality of life.


In the beginning, it is necessary to consider how and whether the right to universal healthcare is addressed in the US Constitution. On the one hand, this official document does not directly comment on a right to health care. The rationale behind this statement is that it is impossible to find the words health or medical care in the Constitution. On the other hand, the selected legislation piece includes some provisions that can be applied to healthcare. In particular, the 14th Amendment stipulates that the United States should not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (US. Const. amend. XIV). It is possible to state that these words denote that the nation should protect civil liberties, including the human right to healthcare. A person’s right to health is understood as the absence of other people’s right to harm an individual’s body. The exercise of the right to health occurs through the implementation of a number of tools and programs. This information demonstrates that other American documents should highlight the importance of universal healthcare.

Then, one should emphasize that the medical system is moving forward and has become much more accessible to citizens over the past 100 years. This is reflected in the opening of new institutions, an increase in the number of specialists, and the introduction of insurance programs and free medical care (Duncan et al., 2018). However, a certain contextual question arises, expressed in the debate about whether medicine has really become a human right. This is due to the fact that different researchers interpret the law ambiguously. On the one hand, legislation and the Declaration of Human Rights establish that every individual has the right to health. In reality, this is true, but health and medical care concepts should be separated (Duncan et al., 2018). On the other hand, the rights of a person should be called those institutions that he gets at birth as an individual. In this context, health care sounds absurd because it is a full-fledged system that functions according to the state and not to law or equality (Duncan et al., 2018). Based on the foregoing, there is a linguistic incident here caused by differences in the interpretation of the law.

Various founding documents address the issue of healthcare and offer many comments to manage and implement this phenomenon and promote its accessibility. On the one hand, it is reasonable to focus on an international context. According to Sundler et al. (2020), Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights highlights the “right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” (p. 615). In addition to that, chief nursing officers Cummings et al. (2018), admit the importance of the Almaty declaration. According to these authors, this document advocates for protecting and promoting health for all people (Cummings et al., 2018). This evidence demonstrates that the international founding documents address the importance of universal healthcare and mention that it should become a human right.

On the other hand, it is necessary to look at how the issue is presented in the United States. The main founding document of the modern US medical system is the Medicare program. This source predetermines several direct obligations to medicine, particularly providing medical insurance to all citizens (Rosenbaum, 2020). In other words, the state acknowledges the issue that not all people have access to medical insurance and addresses the problem. It is possible to interpret these words so that medical care is a right that should be given to everyone (Edwards, 2021). The rationale behind this statement is that the Medicare articulation does not stipulate that specific social layers should not qualify for receiving healthcare. According to the given information, it is possible to mention that the state, with the help of constituent documents, supports and, in some sense, creates the right of citizens to use the healthcare system.

Finally, it needs to be identified that negative and positive rights use arguments to interpret health care as a human right. As for negative rights, they typically require governments to take action or allocate financial resources (Macfarlane, 2018). Consequently, this approach demonstrates that the state should make an effort to create specific circumstances that would promote appropriate life conditions and universal healthcare. In other words, a person is provided with a right to reside in safe and productive environments that would not harm people’s health. Positive rights, in turn, prohibit “the governments from acting in particular ways” (Campbell, 2020, p. 31). From another perspective, these rights stipulate that a person is obliged to provide goods to others or pay taxes. This approach demonstrates that individuals should not rely on external assistance to provide themselves with insurance or protect their own health and life. In other words, a person is responsible for providing themselves with the right to life and universal healthcare.

The information above demonstrates that positive and negative rights approach the issues of life and universal healthcare from different perspectives. On the one hand, positive rights stipulate that people should take independent actions to ensure that they are provided with the required conditions. Even when an unemployed person is considered, they have a right to seek healthcare services. On the other hand, negative rights denote that all people should be provided with suitable opportunities. As for the given an example, the American government launches specific programs to provide unemployed individuals with medical services (Kuka, 2020). Thus, the combination of these rights can lead to positive outcomes.


The paper has demonstrated that insufficient attention is drawn to healthcare in the American legislation documents. The US Constitution does not directly address health or medical care, while international conventions do not share this inefficiency. That is why it is reasonable to recommend amending the American founding documents. Furthermore, the analysis of positive and negative rights has revealed that the combination of the two can improve the quality of healthcare services distribution in society.


Campbell, J. (2020). Natural rights, positive rights, and the right to keep and bear arms. Law & Contemporary Problems, 83(3), 31.

Cummings, J., White, J., McQueen, F., & McArdle, C. (2018). Healthcare is a human right. British Journal of Nursing, 27(9), 493-495.

Duncan, J. W., Ginter, P. M. & Swayne, L. E. (2018). The strategic management of health care organizations. Wiley.

Edwards, T. (2021). Is healthcare a right? The Oklahoma Nurse, 66(2), 14.

Kuka, E. (2020). Quantifying the benefits of social insurances: Unemployment insurance and health. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 102(3), 490-505.

Macfarlane, E. (2018). Positive rights and section 15 of the Charter: Addressing a dilemma. National Journal of Constitutional Law, 38(1), 147-168.

Rosenbaum, L. (2020). Costs, benefits, and sacred values – Why health care reform is so fraught. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(2), 101-104.

Sundler, A. J., Darcy, L., Råberus, A., & Holmström, I. K. (2020). Unmet health‐care needs and human rights – A qualitative analysis of patients’ complaints in light of the right to health and health care. Health Expectations, 23(3), 614-621.

US Constitutions. Amendment XIV.

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"Documents on Healthcare as a Human Right." LawBirdie, 29 Oct. 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Documents on Healthcare as a Human Right'. 29 October.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Documents on Healthcare as a Human Right." October 29, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Documents on Healthcare as a Human Right." October 29, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Documents on Healthcare as a Human Right." October 29, 2023.