Health Insurance: A Basic Human Right


Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlines the basic human right “to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” (Farmer 213). Although fifty years have passed since the adoption of Article 25, there has been little formal recognition of this fundamental right. This holds true especially in regard to Americans without adequate health insurance. At the present-time, there are approximately fifty million Americans who lack proper health insurance. These un-insured individuals spend every day praying that they do not get sick or injured. Unfortunately though, many of these individuals find themselves incurring various illnesses and sustaining injuries. When un-insured Americans become of unsound physical health, their first thoughts are: “I don’t have insurance. How much is this going to cost? Am I going to be able to pay cash for this? Do I even have a few thousand dollars to pay for this? If I pay for treatment will I be able to keep up with my bills?”. Due to the tremendous financial burden of healthcare costs, many un-insured Americans are not able to obtain necessary health services as needed. The inability to access quality healthcare has a detrimental impact on the lifelong health of Americans; and consequently, is not conducive to their overall “physical, mental, and social well-being” (Farmer 213). All individuals are entitled to “the right of physical, mental, and social well-being” (Farmer 213). The aforementioned constitute as “rights” that derive “from the inherent dignity of the human person” (Farmer 213).

In his documentary film Sicko, activist filmmaker Michael Moore tries to obtain sufficient reasoning for “the inherent violation of human rights” that occurs at the hands of America’s healthcare system (Farmer 222). Moore centers “his attentions toward the topic of healthcare in the United States in this documentary that weighs the plight of the uninsured (and the insured who must deal with abuse from insurance companies) against the record-breaking profits of the healthcare industry” (“Sicko“). Moore explores the United States’ immensely profitable healthcare industry with application of a structural lens. Moore addresses: the social conditions inherent in the fabric of society that foreshadow health outcomes and rates of morbidity and mortality; the impact of corporate activities [specifically those of health insurance companies] on health and disease; and historical explanations that account for the broken healthcare system of the United States.

Works Cited

Farmer, Paul. Pathologies of Power. 2nd Edition. ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Print.


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