Daily Video

February 12, 2009

Life on the Economic Edge

With unemployment on the rise and almost 2 million workers laid off in the last months more and more people are left without healthcare and are turning to government for help.

A recent study estimates that for every percentage point increase in unemployment 1 million additional people lose their health insurance. Many of these people are middle-to-upper income families that never thought they’d be seeking aid.

NewsHour Healthcare Correspondent Betty Ann Bowser talks to four recently unemployed people about their struggles with Medicaid and the hard choices that unemployment has left them with.


“I didn’t lose my job because I did something bad on my side, but it could happen to anybody, and I didn’t feel bad at all, because I pay a lot of taxes to the government all these years, and now I need help. So I didn’t feel bad at all, and I still don’t feel bad, to be honest with you.”–Donny Djurkovic

“My daughter was covered under her father. I had to do without. I had to — that was one of the things I had to make a hard choice, of not covering myself and pray and hope I don’t get ill, hurt, or anything else.”– Dee Brassell

“After I got the layoff, they offered me the COBRA, but it was going to be $1,608 a month, and I only get $365 for unemployment.”– Marta Calderon

“Before my daughter got her insurance, it was either I buy my medicine or my daughter’s medicine, who has a heart condition and epilepsy. And her medication is $180 for one bottle. So I gave up my medicine to be able to buy her medicine.”– Rosita Velez

Warm Up Questions

1. What do you think is the average monthly income for a doctor, a teacher, a musician, a scientist, a waiter, a store manager?

2. What is health insurance? How much do you think it costs per month?

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think that healthcare and health insurance are basic rights? Why or why not?

2. All of these people had jobs and paid taxes and now are laid off and need help from the government, does that change your perception of who is on Medicaid? Why?

3. Not all countries have insurance provided by employers. Research some other country healthcare systems which systems do you think are better? Why?

4. At least two of the interviewees said they had to give up their own medicine for their children. Can you think of a way to improve that?

5. Suggested lesson plans: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/teachers/lessonplans/us/jan-june08/miller_healthcare.html


Additional Resources

Read this transcript

Lesson Plan: Healthcare

Lesson Plan: Uninsured

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