To the Editor: The Physicians' Working Group
for Single-Payer National Health Insurance1 stated
"Access to comprehensive health care is a human right." There is a difference,
however, between "health as a human right" and "health care as a human right."
The World Health Organization defines "health" as a state of complete
physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease
and infirmity.2 This physical, mental, and
social well-being is a human right. An individual may choose to live in this
state and this is his or her right. An individual may choose to exercise and
eat a balanced diet or may choose to smoke, drink, eat unhealthy food, or
be a couch potato. This power to choose a state of physical, mental, or social
health is derived from one‘s right to health.
Proposals for US National Health Insurance. JAMA. 2003;290(21):2797. doi:10.1001/jama.290.21.2798-c