Health Is A Human Right

What comes to your mind when you hear someone talk about human rights? Food, education, safety, freedom of expression, the ability to pursue happiness these are things most of us can agree are, or should be, the right of every human. But what are we missing there? Heath. Is health a human right too? 

It’s been a little over five years since I retired most of my packing cubes leaving the travel writing gig on a back burner to take a position as the director of a functional medicine practice. I jumped in heart-first with the bulk of my medical experience limited to being a patient, parent, and caregiver. I’ve learned so much in such a short time and one of the most heart-wrenching lessons learned was that here, in the United States, the system leaves many behind. 

It is with that knowledge in hand that I’ve partnered with Providence Saint Joseph’s to continue to share stories, news, statistics and the faces of Medicaid.  What I hope we all get out of this post (and previous ones) is the understanding that yes… health IS a human right.

So, who or what is Providence Saint Joseph Health? Yes, they are a healthcare organization but their mission reaches far beyond the number of beds in hospitals. In the last year or two, I’ve learned so much from the work they do. I have seen the impact of that work through the people I’ve met who have honored me with allowing me to tell their stories. 

At Providence St. Joseph Health, our mission calls us to be agents of radical change for health. We’re to be a source of healing love and a beacon of hope … in the world, within each of the communities we serve, and for every person we encounter – especially those who are among the most poor and vulnerable in our society due to social conditions…”

Many of us understand that Medicaid is a government program that assists the disabled and those with low-incomes to obtain medical care. But that is a one-dimensional understanding. Veterans, children in foster care, senior citizens, those with complicated medical needs, and even expectant mothers are covered by this program. Medicaid also serves those seeking help with mental health issues that often aren’t covered by private insurance. The program plays a key role in helping to battle the opioid crisis as well. I firmly believe that understanding is the bedrock of change.

The stories below are those of real people, beneficiaries of Medicaid;  

Twenty-three years ago, a boy in Alaska was born 10 weeks early to parents who could not afford his care without Medicaid. Today, he’s a bright young teacher ready to change the world.

In California, Medicaid helps sustain the daughter of a public relations executive. Born with a rare (1,000 in the world) condition, this bright young girl requires care at a cost that eclipses the means of her two professional parents.

A young man in New Mexico manages depression and addiction through the help of Medicaid and is now on the path to rebuilding his life.

A hard-working Montana couple found themselves both facing challenging times between jobs and relied on Medicaid to help get back on their feet.

As a social media expert in Oregon searched for a new job, she needed Medicaid to help her successfully manage her Type II diabetes.

After learning her husband had dementia, a heart-broken spouse in Texas relied on Medicaid to provide him the skilled nursing home care he needed before he passed away.

An energetic 50-year-old woman in Washington experienced a catastrophic stroke, and, since her commercial insurance ran out, Medicaid has been a lifeline to help rebuild her life.

You may know someone who has a child with a rare, complex medical condition. I do. My younger brother needed life-support equipment as an infant. Equipment my young parents – a college student in grad school and a waitress- couldn’t afford it on their own. 

Maybe someone in your neighborhood lost their job and is struggling to make ends meet. This happened to my family in the 80s when the state of California went bankrupt and my dad lost his job. 

I volunteer to help fellow veterans on a regular basis who, despite having served their country, did not qualify for VA healthcare. Many have no private insurance. 

These are our stories. They highlight our commonality and reflect our own humanity. Could you shake hands with any of them and not agree that their health is important and not something they should have to choose over things like food, education, safety or even happiness? 

When we understand what it is that Medicaid means for so many, then we can take up the cause. We can be the change we want to see in the world by helping others understand and then reaching out to our leaders to make sure they know that Health is a human right. 

Want to learn more? Visit the Provident Saint Joesph’s website to get to know the faces of Medicaid .

This post is part of a paid partnership with Provent Saint Joseph’s Health. It is a topic I am passionate about and that I feel we all need to understand. If you have questioned their website is an excellent resource as is your state’s own Medicaid website.


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