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Health Care Crisis Timeline

Subjects: Health, Government, Civics
Estimated Time of Completion: 2 -3 class periods


• Students will work in groups to construct an illustrated time line explaining the history of health care and health insurance in 20th century America.
• They will be able to explain why 1/3 of Americans have no or inadequate insurance and the chronically ill make choices between medications and their homes and/or savings.
• They will draw their own conclusions as to possible remedies for this crisis.


This activity addresses the following health standards as established by McREL at

• Knows factors that influence personal selection of health care resources, products, and services
• Knows local, state, federal, and private agencies that protect and/or inform the consumer (e.g. FDA, EPA, OSHA, and local prosecutor's office)
• Understands the cost and accessibility of a variety of health-care services (e.g. Health insurance coverage)

Tools Needed

Video: "Healthcare Crisis: Who's At Risk?"
Posterboard or large sketch pads or newsprint
Computers with Internet access
Web site list
A time line is provided as part of this Web site that will help with student timelines

Procedures and Activities

• Begin the lesson with the statement from the video: "Healthcare Crisis - Who's At Risk?" informing viewers that more than 43 million American citizens have no health care, and that an astonishing 80 million people have inadequate or no healthcare. That's nearly 1/3 of the country. Are those statistics a wealthy country like the United States should be proud of?
• Ask students if they have any idea what accounts for these startling statistics. Brainstorm a list of possible causes on the blackboard or overhead projector.
• Ask students if they can explain what a crisis is. Is the United States in a "crisis" when it comes to health care, as the producers of the program would claim? Why is health care considered so important? Is it a basic "right"?
• Explain to them, after a brief discussion of the above queries, that the video "Healthcare Crisis: Who's at Risk?" will attempt to answer those questions as well as others having to do with the healthcare crisis.
• Introduce the timeline project by explaining that student groups will construct an illustrated timeline to explain the healthcare crisis.
• Emphasize the importance of taking notes during the video with the timeline in mind.
• Remind students that the back side of their posters must include possible solutions to the crisis today.

    Some of the more relevant clips in the video are:

  • TCR 1:20.27.15 which deals with medical advances in the '70s.
  • TCR 01:18:53 which addresses the 1980s and managed care and is followed by Dr. Napoli's reflection on the 1990s where capitation came into play.
  • Mara Gilbert's plight addresses some of the problems with HMO's
  • During the Gilbert section, David Eddy proposes 2 methods of improving HMO care.
  • TCR 03:00:18:16 addresses governmental attempts at a comprehensive national health care plan and Presidents who have attempted to address health care issues.
  • TCR 1:17 shows clips of President Clinton addressing Congress about the Comprehensive health care plan.
  • Near the end of the video, David Eddy again proposes two possible solutions to health care problems facing our nation.

• The following day, students should work in groups to construct a timeline explaining why the United States' health care system is in crisis. The timeline found on the general audience portion of this Web site, as well as other sites like's Frontline, will help students learn more.
• Each group will have a copy of the assessment rubric to help them in construction of their project. (link down to to Assessment rubric)
• Part of the group will do computer research, while the others work on the timeline.
• The back of the timeline should be dedicated to possible solutions to the crisis.
• Student posters will be displayed throughout the room.


The following rubric will be used to assess the timeline project:


1. What was the status of health care in 1940? 5
2. During the '50-'60s, who paid health insurance? 5
3. What was coverage for unemployed or elderly citizens like in the 1960s? 10
4. When were Medicare and Medicaid enacted? What is their current status? 20
5. During the 1970s, how did technological advances affect health insurance? 10
6. When was managed care introduced? 10
7. What % of Americans are in managed care programs? 10
8. What happened to the national comprehensive health plan? What is our government doing to address the crisis today? 10
9. In your proposed solutions, be sure to address: indigent, Medicare prescriptions, uninsured 20 Total Points Possible 100

Extensions and Adaptations

• The timeline could be constructed without the solutions part of the assignment.
• A third day's lesson could be class presentations of the timelines and collective ideas for solutions.
An insurance broker, health care worker, or physician could be invited to class as students near completion of their projects to review the timelines with the group and possibly give suggestions or explanations.
• Students might refine their project and submit it to representatives in their congressional districts asking for the legislators to consider their suggestions for resolving the crisis.
• The timelines could be adapted to be "living timelines" where each person in the group represents a mark on the timeline. That student would then verbalize what happened during their mark on the healthcare timeline. This would be a fun activity for a parent open house or as a class presentation where legislators, parents, hospital administrators, insurance agents or other members of the community might be invited.
• The timelines might be posted in local health care facilities with "guestbooks" inviting public comment.

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