What is the Difference Between Health Policy and Health Law?

Many people find the difference between policy and law to be a confusing distinction. This applies in healthcare and medicine more heavily than in some other industries, due to the heavily regulated nature of organizations that are concerned with public well-being in the United States. In fact, the distinction between these two areas is fairly straightforward and easy to understand: the problem, in most cases, is that no clear explanation has ever been presented.

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What is Healthcare Laws?

This is a reference to overall bodies of rules and regulations with which American industries are required to remain in compliance. Most educational institutions do not view this as a single cohesive area of study, but as an umbrella term for a number of specialized fields. These relevant areas of specialized expertise include public healthcare, occupational healthcare, bioethics, infectious disease control, global healthcare and more. This term is typically used in regard to the manner in which rules and regulations are followed, rather than the violation of specific required practices.

What are Healthcare Policies?

This is a reference to specific rules and regulations, which are meant to achieve (or prevent) a specific goal or outcome — or, to prevent one — regarding the larger scope of public healthcare regulation. These are actual rules and guidelines meant to bring an organization or government initiative to specific ends. They may be maintained as legal measures by the United States government at the local, state or federal level, or they may be implemented by a company or organization with regard to its own practices. In the latter case, this is usually the result of that organization adhering to the government’s public safety guidelines, and overall legal requirements. This term is typically used with regard to specific rules and regulations, or else with regard to a particular outcome which those measures are meant to either achieve or avoid.

Why is the Distinction Important?

For anyone working in healthcare, or in a related field, or for an organization which is involved in public wellness or safety due to the nature of its operations, this distinction in terminology is an important one. It allows for discussion relevant to overall guidelines and requirements meant to ensure general safety and well-being, as well as to specific outcomes of possible violations in any regulation. By using these two terms appropriately, the nature of these discussions become obvious in context. They become easier to add other concerned parties to, and to follow clearly, making misunderstanding and confusion over what is being discussed much less likely.

Healthcare regulation is an important part of business and government in today’s America. With so many known manufactured and environmental threats to the well-being of people living in our modern society, it is important to attempt to minimize overall risks to the safety of the population. Understanding the difference between policy, which refers to specific regulations, and law, which refers to overall regulatory fields, allows for smoother adherence to these rules by organizations which need to remain in compliance.