Background
Ideas for introducing the topic of health care reform:
  • Before beginning the health care lessons, ask students to write down five health related headlines over the course of a week and bring them to class. Call on student volunteers to read their headlines. What health related issues are in the news? What are people most concerned about? Ask students to share what they know about health care reform – what are the current challenges facing the American health care system?
  • Read the introduction (Part I) to the Miller Center white paper: The Right to Health Care and The Role of Government in Health Policy as a class. Outline the current challenges facing the American health care system.
  • Use the Just The Facts chart from Yes! Magazine’s health care issue to give students an overview of the health care reform debate. Why does America spend more per capita on health care then any other nation, but still rank 28th in life expectancy? Why are insurance premiums rising so quickly? How can we cap health care spending? Is universal health insurance a tenable option in the United States? Outline the current challenges facing the American health care system.
Procedure
Lesson One – An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure -- Detailed Procedures
Rising rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and skyrocketing costs of accompanying treatments suggest that the debate about health care reform requires a thoughtful examination of the factors that contribute to health and disease so that healthy behaviors can be promoted and chronic disease reduced and prevented.

Activities:
  • Interpret research findings about the cost of chronic disease
  • Make a photo collage of healthy and unhealthy behaviors
  • Class discussion about health care reform and chronic disease
Lesson Two – Health Insurance Overview -- Detailed Procedures
Though most students are currently covered under their parent’s health insurance plans, many will soon secure jobs and health benefits of their own. Before students can engage in meaningful debate about the challenges and benefits of the current health care system, they must understand its jargon and structure. This lesson provides students with the opportunity to analyze and compare a variety of health care plans in order to increase their familiarity with the terms and concepts used in the health care debate.

Activities:

  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Basic overview of health insurance (teacher lecture)
  • Health care on Minimum Wage Teacher’s Guide & Worksheet
  • Understanding Health Benefits worksheet and group work
Lesson Three – Health Care Interviews -- Detailed Procedures
Despite some attempts to personalize the health care debate, people’s individual stories tend to get lost among politically charged reform plans and complex jargon. Interviews allow students to hear local perspectives on the health care debate and put a personal face on a national issue.

Activities:

  • Health care Interviews
  • Compare class findings to national polls
  • Class discussion about interviews
Lesson Four – Health Care: A Right or a Privilege? -- Detailed Procedures
In recent national polls and surveys, many people have indicated that they would like some form of universal basic health care. What constitutes basic health care? If basic health care is a right, what responsibilities accompany that right? With treatment costs for chronic diseases continuing to rise, does the government have a right to ban unhealthy behaviors such as smoking in exchange for basic coverage? What would universal health insurance look like in the United States?

Activities:

  • Right vs. Privilege scenarios and discussion
  • Comparing the U.S. health system to other nations
  • Regulating Health handout
  • Health care Reform worksheet
Lesson Five – Dueling Presidential Proposals -- Detailed Procedures
Students will discuss the liberal and conservative approaches to health care reform and compare the proposals of the 2008 presidential candidates.

Activities:

  • 2008 Health care Buzzwords
  • Comparing liberal and conservative viewpoints on health care reform
  • Analyzing presidential candidate proposals
Lesson Six – Health Care Student Debate -- Detailed Procedures
Students will debate the Miller Center resolution: “Health care is a fundamental right; the government has an obligation to secure this right for all Americans."

Activities:

  • Student Debate Guide
  • Debate
Extension Activities
  • Invite members of the community who are involved in health care to speak to the class about health care reform.
  • For more information and lesson ideas about Medicare and Medicaid, use the PBS NOW lesson plan: http://www.pbs.org/now/classroom/medicare.html#sites
  • For more information and lessons about the uninsured and underinsured in America, use the Online NewsHour Health Beat in-depth coverage:
    “The Uninsured In America.” www.pbs.org/newshour/indepth_coverage/health/uninsured/
  • Brainstorm student proposals for increasing healthy behaviors at the community level. Research ways students can help to implement some of the proposals. Share what your students are doing with PBS Online NewsHour and the Miller Center.
  • Ask students to record how many pharmaceutical commercials they see during one hour of television. How do pharmaceutical commercials impact the current American health care system? How might pharmaceutical commercials impact the cost of insurance premiums? How do pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists shape the American model of health care?
  • Healthy eating habits contribute to strong overall health, while unhealthy eating contributes to the development of chronic diseases. What factors impact American eating habits? What can Americans do to promote healthy eating? Is healthy eating a matter of income and access, and if so, how can Americans help equalize the amount of healthy food available to all? How do corn subsidies and the Farm Bill impact American eating habits, and by extension, the health care system? Does health care reform also require reforming the food and agricultural industries?
  • Environmental pollutants also affect health. Research the environmental factors that impact people’s health. How can Americans help decrease exposure to environmental pollutants? Will saving the environment save medical costs as well?
Taken from: www.mcrel.org

CIVICS STANDARDS
1. Understands ideas about civic life, politics, and government
2. Understands the essential characteristics of limited and unlimited governments
14. Understands issues concerning the disparities between ideals and reality in American political and social life
19. Understands what is meant by "the public agenda," how it is set, and how it is influenced by public opinion and the media
20. Understands the roles of political parties, campaigns, elections, and associations and groups in American politics
21. Understands the formation and implementation of public policy
25. Understands issues regarding personal, political, and economic rights
26. Understands issues regarding the proper scope and limits of rights and the relationships among personal, political, and economic rights

HEALTH STANDARDS
1. Knows the availability and effective use of health services, products, and information
2. Knows environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health
6. Understands essential concepts about nutrition and diet
7. Knows how to maintain and promote personal health

THINKING AND REASONING STANDARDS
1. Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument
2. Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning
3. Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467