Should the US have universal health care?

Background

Perhaps no issue affects citizens as deeply and personally as access to health care. In the debate over health care, Republicans tend to favor policies that aim to control costs, reduce the role of government, and protect individual choice. Democrats tend to focus on making health care a universal right and preserving, or expanding, the reach of government.

Currently, the largest share of Americans receives health insurance through their employer. Many others receive health insurance through a government program, the largest of which are Medicaid and Medicare.

Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Medicare for All Act, which would transition the country to a single-payer system, creating one national health care plan to cover all U.S. residents. Americans would no longer pay insurance premiums, deductibles, or copayments. Instead, they would pay new taxes to fund the system. The government program would replace all other insurance with limited exceptions, eliminating employer-based insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Click the puzzle links above to check out the top arguments on both sides, courtesy of our friends at Close Up.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you agree with the “PRO” side that health care should be treated as a human right? (Consider whether having a “right” implies that someone else has a duty to fulfill that “right.”)

2. How does the US compare to other countries that have universal health care systems? What are the pros and cons of those countries’ systems?

3. What are the economic impacts of the government providing health care versus private insurance?

4. Whichever side you fall on, what is the best argument on the other side, and why?

(For teaching resources to improve classroom discussions, check out our Teachers Pay Teachers page!)

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