US health care law can help close gaps in social security coverage – UN agency

29 June 2012

The health care overhaul law in the United States, which was upheld by the Supreme Court yesterday, can help close gaps in social security coverage that currently affect 30 million people in the country, the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) said today.

“The new legislation can certainly help people who currently have no access to health care and is very much in line with our efforts to expand social protection throughout the world,” said Xenia Scheil-Adlung, the Health Policy Coordinator at ILO’s Social Security Department.

“The US was behind many other countries for social security coverage in health, especially at a time when the economic crisis has further increased these needs,” she said in a news release issued by the Geneva-based agency.

Health protection, Ms. Scheil-Adlung said, is the first pillar of what the ILO calls the “social protection floor” – a nationally-defined set of basic social security guarantees.

“The new ILO recommendation [on social protection floors] makes it clear that social protection needs to be defined at national levels and should be discussed with all stakeholders, including civil society. So the current debate taking place in the US around social protection can be beneficial in a way,” she said.


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