NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use
initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your
Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the
issues outlined in the story affect their lives and express and debate
can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions
and/or their editorial.
Story: The Debate
Over Universal Health Care 1/19/04
1. What is health
2. Do you have to have a job to get health insurance in the United States?
3. Does your family have health care coverage? Who pays for it?
Questions: (click here
1. What did the Institute
of Medicine report recommend?
In a report
released Wednesday, the Institute of Medicine, an organization sponsored
by Congress, recommended that the government consider universal health
insurance, insurance that would cover all Americans regardless of their
employment status or financial situation.
2. Why is health care
a problem in this country?
Americans must be employed to receive partially covered health insurance.
Employers choose an insurance plan, paying a certain amount per worker,
and then workers do not have to pay full price for doctor visits or
Those who do
not have jobs must either pay for private insurance, which is very expensive,
cover their own medical bills, which can rise into the hundreds of thousands
of dollars depending on the treatment, or simply go without care because
they can't afford it.
the Census Bureau, 43.6 million Americans had no health insurance in
2002, an increase over the 39.8 million people who had none in 2000.
3. What is Rep. Dennis
Kucinich's plan for health care?
called for "Medicare for All." He would eliminate private
insurance and create a government-run health care system.
there's over a trillion dollars in the health care system from local,
state and federal sources," Kucinich said. "Today, Americans
are paying for universal health care. They're just not getting it. They're
not getting it, because insurance companies are guaranteed to be able
to jack up the price of health care with the paperwork transactions
4. What is Howard
Gov. Howard Dean's proposal calls for universal health coverage for
all people under 25. It would also ease health insurance costs for small
businesses who can't afford to pay the high price of group health plans.
Dean's plan includes
the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, where they are cheaper
- a feature very unpopular with American companies that manufacture
medicine. It also penalizes large businesses if they refuse to pay for
health coverage for their employees - a feature business leaders say
restricts their ability to make profits and could harm the economy.
5. Why are some people
against universal health care?
Critics of universal
health care say it simply costs too much, and with tight budgets, there
isn't enough money to cover all uninsured Americans. Meanwhile, health
insurance companies have strong connections to both parties in Congress
and would fight any attempt to regulate or eliminate their business.
Health and Human
Services Secretary Tommy Thompson called the plan "unrealistic."
6. What has President
Bush proposed for health care reform?
plan for increased health care coverage includes offering $89 billion
in health care tax credits to people whose employers do not pay their
7. What are some of
the problems other countries have experienced with universal health care?
countries have universal, government-run programs, but they come at
the cost of higher taxes. Such systems also result in varying health
In Britain, for
example, all residents are covered, but many people complain of lower
standards of care and lengthy waits - of sometimes years -- to see certain
(more research might be needed):
1. Using the Online NewsHour's election resources at http://www.votebyissue.org/primary/,
research the health plans proposed by the Democratic presidential candidates.
Which plan makes the most sense to you? Explain your reasons.
2. If the government proposed a bill requiring Americans to pay higher
taxes so that everyone could have health insurance coverage, would you
support the bill? Why or why not? How much extra would you be willing
3. What are the forces pushing to change the health care system? What
are the forces push to keep it the same? Which are more powerful?
Write a 300-500 word
essay on any of these topics providing clear examples. Send your completed
editorial to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Exceptional essays might be published on our Web site.