January 19, 2021, Vol 325, No. 3, Pages 205-316
Health Care Is a Right, Not a Privilege – A New Series on US Health Care and Health Policy
Howard Bauchner, MD; Phil B. Fontanarosa, MD, MBA; Karen Joynt Maddox, MD, MPH
Two fundamental questions about health care in the US remain unanswered: is health care a right or a privilege and, relatedly, is the US committed to ensuring that every individual has access to some form of health insurance like in every other modern high-resource country.1,2 President Obama, despite the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in increasing the number of individuals with health insurance in this country, seldom addressed this issue directly, even in a wide-ranging special communication in JAMA.3 President Trump has done little with respect to increasing the number of individuals with insurance; instead, his administration has challenged the legality of various aspects of the ACA in court, although overturning it would reduce health coverage significantly. However, there has been encouraging, if incomplete, movement at the state level. In total, 39 states have now expanded Medicaid under the auspices of the ACA, including a number of states, such as Oklahoma and Louisiana, with a historically conservative populace.