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CNN Classroom Edition: Broken Gov't - Health Care: Critical Condition

  • Story Highlights
  • Learn about the U.S. health care and medical insurance crisis
  • Examine the U.S. presidential candidates' stances on the issue of health care
  • Assess the benefits and drawbacks of universal health care
  • Survey different age groups to learn about their views on the health care crisis
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(CNN Student News) -- Record the CNN Special Investigations Unit Classroom Edition: Broken Government: Health Care: Critical Condition when it airs commercial-free on Monday, May 19, 2008, from 4:00 -- 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN. (A short feature begins at 4:00 a.m. and precedes the program.)

Program Overview

At least 47 million Americans lack health insurance, driving them to emergency rooms for medical care and desperate measures to pay for needed treatment. In the latest edition of CNN's "Broken Government" series, CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates the crisis in health care and medical insurance and takes a hard look at proposals for a better safety net.

Grade Levels: 9-12, College

Subject Areas: Health, Social Studies, Government, Current Issues

Objectives: The CNN Special Investigations Unit Classroom Edition: Broken Government: Health Care: Critical Condition and its corresponding discussion questions and activity challenge students to:

  1. Learn about the health care and medical insurance crisis that is occurring in the U.S.;
  2. Examine where the U.S. presidential candidates stand on the issue of health care;
  3. Assess the benefits and drawbacks of universal health care;
  4. Identify the roles and responsibilities that U.S. citizens, insurance companies, health care providers, drug companies and businesses have in solving the health care crisis;
  5. Survey different age groups to learn about their views on the health care crisis.

Curriculum Connections

Health

Standard 2. Knows environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health

Level IV [Grade: 9-12]

Benchmark 2. Knows how individuals can improve or maintain community health (e.g., becoming active in environmental and economic issues that affect health, assisting in the development of public health policies and laws, exercising voting privileges)

Benchmark 5. Knows how public health policies and government regulations impact health-related issues (e.g., household waste disposal controls, clean air, disposal of nuclear waste)

McREL: Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) (http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.

Social Studies

Standard III. People, Places and Environments: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

Standard V. Individuals, Groups and Institutions: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.

Standard VI. Power, Authority, and Governance: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.

Standard X. Civic Ideals and Practices: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.

The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/strands/) are published by the National Council for Social Studies (http://ncss.org/).

Discussion Questions

  1. What is health insurance? What are Medicare and Medicaid?
  2. Why is it important to have health insurance?
  3. According to the program, how many Americans rely on their jobs for health coverage? How did America's current health care system originate?
  4. Approximately how many Americans are uninsured? What are some of the reasons given in the program for people being uninsured? What are some of the problems that uninsured people face? Do you think that these problems impact American society as a whole? If so, how? If not, why not?
  5. What health insurance-related problems did the people featured in this program encounter? What measures did some of these people take to deal with their health insurance-related issues? What would you have done if you were in their shoes?
  6. Why do you think that people with pre-existing medical conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes can have difficulty finding health insurance?
  7. What is universal health care? What U.S. state has a universal health care plan? According to the report, how does this health care plan work? What are some of the pros and cons of the plan? Would you want your state to adopt a similar health care plan? State your rationale.
  8. If the U.S. government were to implement a universal health coverage plan, do you think that it would impact how people view the government? Explain.
  9. According to the program: How does America's health care system compare to the health care systems in nations like France, Great Britain and Canada? What are some of the benefits and drawbacks of each health care system?
  10. What U.S. presidential candidates are featured in this program? According to the program, where do these candidates stand on the health care issue? How do their health care plans differ?
  11. To which segments of the population do you think that these candidates' health care plans most appeal, and why? Which of the candidates' plans, if any, do you support? Explain.
  12. In your opinion, where does the health care issue rank in terms of importance to other election issues, such as the Iraq war, the economy, immigration, the environment and energy?
  13. In your view, what roles and responsibilities should U.S. citizens, insurance companies, drug companies, health care providers and businesses each have in fixing America's health care system?

Suggested Activity

Divide your students into four groups and assign each group one of the following different demographic groups:

  1. seniors
  2. middle-aged people
  3. young adults
  4. teens

Related Resources

Have each group member survey at least two people from his or her assigned age group to find out their views on the U.S. health care system. Help your students to brainstorm a list of survey questions, such as:

  1. Do you have health care coverage? If so, who pays for it? If not, why not?
  2. If you have medical insurance, do you feel that you are well covered? Why or why not?
  3. Have you ever put off needed medical care because of the cost?
  4. Have you ever gone into debt to pay for medical treatment?
  5. Have you ever taken extreme measures to obtain health insurance?
  6. In your opinion, where does the health care issue rank in terms of importance to other U.S. presidential election issues, such as the Iraq war, the economy, immigration, the environment and energy?
  7. What are your thoughts regarding the U.S. presidential candidates' stances on health care?
  8. Do you think that the U.S. government should adopt a universal health care plan? Why or why not? If so, would you favor a government-run single payer system or a public-private partnership? If not, what role, if any, do you think that the government should have in health care?

Have each group summarize its findings and share them with the class. (Note: You'll want to encourage students to preserve the anonymity of their respondents.) Then, direct students to note the similarities and differences among the different groups' responses. Challenge students to explain some possible reasons for the results. Then ask: Were you surprised by any of the responses? What, if anything, did you learn from the survey? Did this activity impact your views on America's health care system and health care reform? Explain.

Keywords

government policies, medical insurance, universal health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, campaign issue, pharmaceutical companies, businesses, legislation, Massachusetts, insurance industry, pre-existing condition, bankruptcy

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