NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra feature 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 a 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions
and/or their editorial.
Massachusetts Requires Everyone to Get Health Insurance, 04/17/06
1. What is health
2. Who pays for health insurance?
Questions: (click here for printout)
1. What is Massachusetts
doing to help improve medical care?
Romney, a Republican and likely presidential candidate, signed a law
last week aimed at providing health care to about 95 percent of the
state's 500,000 uninsured residents by 2009.
citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance
and the costs of health care will be reduced. And we will need no new
taxes, no employer mandate and no government takeover to make this happen,"
Romney wrote in an April 11 editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
2. How does health
insurance work? How do health insurance companies make money?
People pay an
insurance company a certain amount each month and then when they have
to go to the doctor or have a medical emergency, the health insurance
company pays most of the bills.
company makes money off of healthy people who don't have to go the doctor,
but loses money on sick people who need a lot of care, just as the car
insurance company makes money off of drivers who never have a crash,
but loses it on drivers who get into big accidents.
3. What is Medicaid?
To help very
low-income people, the federal government created Medicaid.
Each state decides
who is eligible for Medicaid and more than 41 million Americans received
Medicaid as of 2004.
4. How many uninsured
Americans are there? Why might someone be uninsured?
who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and cannot afford to
or choose not to buy their own insurance are left uninsured. In 2004,
a record 46 million Americans were uninsured.
people don't go to the doctor for check-ups because it is too expensive,
so they end up in hospital emergency rooms when their health problems
5. Briefly describe the Massachusetts health insurance plan.
By 2007, all
residents of the state are required to carry health insurance.
of the plan have yet to be finalized, but the $1 billion of state money
that had been collected to pay for the state's uninsured patients will
now be used to subsidize insurance for people who can not afford it.
The state will
create low- or no-cost plans for the lowest wage earning residents.
And people will get a tax break to help pay for insurance.
People who can
afford health insurance and fail to buy it will be penalized on their
6. According to the
story, will this plan be a model for health insurance nation-wide?
in Massachusetts hoped this health insurance reform will spread to other
states, some insurance experts say it is unlikely.
has fewer uninsured citizens compared to the national statistics - about
10 percent compared to 18 percent - and the state already spends over
$500 million to pay to treat the uninsured.
it's going to be difficult for other states" to make changes, James
Mongan, chief executive of Partners HealthCare, told Boston.com.
But others say
Massachusetts' combination of individual mandates and employer contributions
is promising and may encourage more states to tackle the difficult problem.
plan could become a catalyst and a galvanizing event at the national
level, and a catalyst for other states," Brandeis University health
policy professor Stuart Altman told Boston.com.
(more research might be needed):
1. Research the Massachusetts plan in more detail. Do you think it will
succeed? What are the pros and cons of the plan? How would you change
the plan if you could.
2. In the United States
there are private health insurance companies and government health insurance
for low-income citizens. Some countries provide universal health insurance
for all citizens, regardless of income. Research the topic and write an
opinion piece about universal health insurance. Should this be a goal
of the U.S.? Why or why not? Explain your reasoning.
3. Medicaid eligibility
requirements are determined by each state. What are the requirements in
your state? How many people qualify for Medicaid? How many are enrolled?
What is the health insurance situation in your state? Could a plan like
Massachusetts work there? Why or why not?
Write a 300-500
word essay on any of these topics providing clear examples. Send your
completed editorial to NewsHour Extra (email@example.com). Exceptional
essays might be published on our Web site.