Skip to main content

Prof. Allison Hoffman publishes Oxford Handbook chapter on inequitable access to health care in the U.S.

November 18, 2020

Health care law expert Professor Allison Hoffman maps out the complex picture of access to medical care in the United States in this Oxford Handbook chapter.

In “The American Pathology of Inequitable Access to Medical Care,” University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Professor of Law Allison K. Hoffman and Wake Forest Law Professor Mark A. Hall map out the complex picture of access to medical care in the United States and show how “variable access illustrates, among other things, an American ambivalence about health solidarity.” Their scholarship has been published as a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Health Law (David Orentlicher and Tamara Hervey, eds. 2020).

The authors write that the factor that “most defines access to health care in the United States may be its stark inequity.” While touting some of the most impressive advances in medical research, claims that the system is also broken are “equally true.”

“This Chapter,” writes the authors, “first considers health care financing as one critical element that defines access to medical care and describes the multifaceted U.S. health care financing structure, predominated by public insurance programs for select populations and regulated private insurance for others.” Next, Hoffman and Hall describe how legal requirements create treatment obligations for medical professionals, which also shapes access.

“There is no constitutional right to health in the U.S.,” they write, “but various layers of statutory and common law have created some guarantees.”

Despite these guarantees and concerted efforts to expand health care access, “the United States is still extraordinary, as compared to peer nations, on the unevenness of access to medical care among its population.”

Hoffman is an expert on health care law and policy and examines some of the most important legal and social issues of our time, including health insurance regulation, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and retiree healthcare expenses, and long-term care.

She co-edited the Oxford Handbook of U.S. Health Law with I. Glenn Cohen and William M. Sage, which offers the most comprehensive review of U.S. health law in the post-ACA era. Hoffman was awarded the Robert A. Gorman Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2018-19. She is currently working with co-authors Howell Jackson and Amy Monahan on a white paper on an employer public option, which would allow employers to select Medicare as their health plan for employees, and has joined with her mentor Ted Marmor to write the 3rd Edition of The Politics of Medicare.

Read more Law School faculty papers and publications.