Beatrix R. Hoffman Ph.D.

Department of History
Northern Illinois University
Email: Discipline: History Expertise: Civil Rights

Investigator Award
A History of the Right to Health Care
Award Year: 2001 Despite current talk of "patient rights," healthcare as a right remains an elusive concept. In this study of assertions and denials of the right to health care in the U.S., Dr. Hoffman will focus on four major topics. They include: legal challenges to the denial of health care; debates over indigent care; rights in the private insurance system including clashes among policyholders, providers, and insurance companies; and the role of race and citizenship in the shifting interpretations of health care rights. By moving discussions from the abstract to the concrete, the project will provide a basis for more effective debate on the role of rights in health care reform. Dr. Hoffman's findings will highlight philosophical and practical contradictions in the health care system that work against equity in access and outcomes.


Beatrix R. Hoffman is a professor in the Department of History at Northern Illinois University. Her Investigator Award project is entitled "A History of the Right to Health Care in the United States." She is the author of The Wages of Sickness: The Politics of Health Insurance in Progressive America (Chapel Hill, 2001) and Health Care Reform and Social Movements in the United States (American Journal of Public Health, January 2003), among other publications. Her research on the history of health care rights has also received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the American Council of Learned Societies.