Sick Around the World

Discussion Questions


After viewing the entire program, discuss the following questions with students.


  • What does "universal health care" mean? Which countries in the film have universal health care?
  • In the United States, insurance companies can deny coverage to people who are sick or who have "pre-existing conditions," and they can make a profit. How do these two factors impact American health care?
  • How do the British pay for their National Health Service? What, according to the film, might Americans not like about the British system?
  • Japanese citizens visit doctors three times as often as Americans, and have longer life spans and lower infant mortality than Americans. How do the Japanese pay for their health care system?
  • In Germany, the rich pay for the poor, the ill are covered by the healthy, health insurance continues with or without employment, and doctors, who are private entrepreneurs, make less money than they did before reform.
    • Why will doctors in Germany accept less money?
    • Should the rich pay for the poor when it comes to health insurance?
  • Taiwan designed its health care system in 1995, after looking at health care in 10-15 other countries.
    • What do you think works well in the Taiwanese system?
    • How is Taiwan struggling to balance the hopes of patients, the needs of doctors and the cost of treatment?
  • Until 1994, Switzerland linked health insurance to employment; if you lost your job, you lost your insurance. But after the Swiss voted in a new system called LAMal, everyone had to buy health insurance, and insurance companies could not make a profit. Why were the Swiss willing to make this change? Why have people become more supportive of LAMal as time has progressed?
  • At present, between 40 and 50 million Americans are without health insurance. After watching the film, do you believe that providing universal health care should be the policy of the United States? Why or why not?
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