What is Public Health?


Warning on a box of Winston cigarettes

We are about to witness a major fight over the fate of Obamacare. This is an important moment in U.S. social policy with very serious implications for millions of people. Let’s be clear though, the current fight over health reform is mostly about health insurance. But having an insurance card does not guarantee that someone will have access to health care. Even if they do get care, it might not be timely, effective, efficient, affordable, safe, or culturally sensitive. Most importantly, providing access to fantastic health care is not the best way to improve the health of populationsTwitter .

Insuring every American is not our ultimate goal. That is a crucial means to the broader goal of being a healthier nation. Population health should transcend the partisan politics surrounding the Affordable Care Act. There are many policies that would improve health that can be expected to win support from people on all sides of the political spectrum. We will have to navigate political mind fields about the role of government and the use of public funds, but I am convinced consensus on public health priorities is possible.Twitter

The upcoming fight is a crucial opportunity for public health to step up, assert its place in the broader debate about health reform, and chart a bi-partisan path to enacting policies that improve health. We can already point to a number of successes. For example, public health leaders have argued that it is more efficient and morally superior to prevent smoking than to get better and better at treating lung cancer.

Public Health Post is one place for this conversation to happen. In the coming weeks we will feature articles from people making the case for public health. We will talk about issues ranging from cyber-bullying to maternal mortality. We will also use this the site as a safe space for people to reflect on what Trump’s victory means to them and for the country’s health.

Today we start with a video we like from the American Public Health Association addressing the question: what is public health? We would love your answers to this question. Email us or connect on Twitter @pubhealthpost if you want to add your voice.

Feature image: Conniea friendly message from Winston, used under CC BY 2.0. “What is Public Health?,” video courtesy of the American Public Health Association.