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The Role of Government in the U.S. Healthcare System

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The Role of Government in the U.S. Healthcare System
Table of Contents
  1. Is Health Care a Right or a Privilege?
  2. The Role of the Government in Health Care: the ACA
  3. Ethical Issues Affecting Health-Care Delivery
  4. References

Is Health Care a Right or a Privilege?

Despite the fact that all the citizens of the United States have constitutionally guaranteed rights to life, freedom, and safety, many of those who are sick or disabled cannot enjoy these rights. Millions of Americans cannot afford even basic medical care, either for themselves or for their elderly parents and small children (Jacobs & Skocpol, 2015). Under these conditions, it is next to impossible for them to build a lasting career, have a family, or pursue happiness.

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It seems reasonable, as one approach to resolving these problems, to make health care a human right. However, many politicians (both libertarians and conservatives) believe that this idea contradicts the principle of the free market since most individuals receive insurance through their jobs. If everyone was entitled to free health-care services, it might mean that no one would prioritize finding a job.

Thus, the health-care system of today is based neither on rights nor on privileges. The first option is impossible since health care is far from being affordable to everyone, whereas the second is only partially true as it does not depend on an individual’s status but rather on professional competence, allowing a person to find a job that provides social and health-care guarantees.

The Role of the Government in Health Care: the ACA

The government produces a direct impact on health care since it decides what policies and regulations will guide care delivery in various medical institutions. Still, discussions are taking place regarding the particular functions the government must perform in relation to health care. Ten major roles are typically cited (Jacobs & Skocpol, 2015):

  • purchasing health care;
  • providing health care;
  • guaranteeing access to care for the entire population;
  • controlling health-care markets;
  • fostering knowledge acquisition;
  • developing health-care technologies and new medical practices;
  • ensuring adherence to quality standards;
  • informing decision-makers;
  • developing the workforce;
  • convening all the stakeholders involved in health-care provision.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), introduced on March 23, 2010, was aimed at providing access to health care for citizens who had no insurance coverage owing to their low-income level. With the signing of the act by the president, the role of public health has attained unprecedented significance since it has brought about drastic changes in all aspects, including services, quality, funding, and technology (Sommers, Buchmueller, Decker, Carey, & Kronick, 2013).

Besides allowing the government to improve access to health-care services by expanding insurance options, the act also provided many more people with the opportunity to undergo health-related screenings and use free preventive services including vaccinations, blood pressure measuring, cancer examination, etc. (Antwi, Moriya, & Simon, 2015).

Ethical Issues Affecting Health-Care Delivery

The article selected for analysis concerns present-day problems in health care, including ethical issues among others. Despite the fact that health-care reform in the United States was initially aimed at providing wider coverage, the system is far from being fully universalized. Since resources are scarce, illegal immigrants cannot be properly accommodated. This creates an ethical dilemma: Health-care units are forced to choose between providing universal access to their services or prioritizing citizens and legal immigrants. Denying access to illegal immigrants would mean fostering the spread of disease. At the same time, it would allow saving funds that can be allocated for prevention (Johansen, 2017).

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Furthermore, the article increased my understanding of the influence of ethics debate in privacy issues. Since the popularity of technological innovations in health care is on the rise, it is now easier to share photos and videos of patients with those who are not involved in the process of treatment, a practice that is unethical (Johansen, 2017). Thus, reforms are required for health-care units to be able to eliminate unethical practices.


Antwi, Y. A., Moriya, A. S., & Simon, K. I. (2015). Access to health insurance and the use of inpatient medical care: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act young adult mandate. Journal of Health Economics, 39(3), 171-187.

Jacobs, L., & Skocpol, T. (2015). Health care reform and American politics: What everyone needs to know. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Johansen, R. (2017). Future challenges facing health care in the United States. Panmore Institute. Web.

Sommers, B. D., Buchmueller, T., Decker, S. L., Carey, C., & Kronick, R. (2013). The Affordable Care Act has led to significant gains in health insurance and access to care for young adults. Health Affairs, 32(1), 165-174.

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