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Comparative Health Care: The United States and Japan

Comparative Health Care: The United States and Japan

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Comprehensive Unit
84 pages
Grade Level: High School – Community College
Published 2004

This curriculum unit helps to make pertinent information about health care accessible to secondary school students. "Personal and Community Health" is a key section of the National Science Education Standards. One of the standards specifically notes that "personal goals, peer and social pressures, ethnic and religious beliefs, and understanding of biological consequences can all influence decisions about health practices." In addition, one of the National School Health Education Standards focuses on how one's cultural background influences health. To help students understand the importance of these standards, this curriculum unit introduces students to several of the key issues surrounding health care. These issues are bioethics, aging, and health care systems. A great deal of controversy surrounds these issues, and this controversy is illuminated in this unit through case studies of the United States and Japan.

Lesson One, Exploring Bioethical Issues in a Cross-Cultural Context: Brain Death and Organ Transplantation in the United States and Japan, introduces students to ethical considerations surrounding the issues of brain death and organ transplantation in the United States and Japan. Using case studies from both countries, students will explore how medical, social, cultural, and legal definitions of death vary between and within these nations. This lesson will encourage students to understand both the biological processes causing brain death as well as the ethical debates surrounding it. Students planning careers in medical and legal fields may be especially interested in the topics addressed by this lesson.

Lesson Two, Understanding Population Change: A Case Study of the Aging Society in the United States and Japan, introduces students to issues surrounding the aging of society in the United States and Japan. Specifically, students will learn why and how each society is undergoing demographic change, and the ways in which each country is attempting to address the needs of its older citizens. The class will also be introduced to the concept of futures studies through this lesson. Students interested in pursuing careers in health care, public policy, social work, and statistics may be especially interested in the topics addressed by this lesson.

Lesson Three, Health Care Systems: The United States and Japan, introduces students to key issues surrounding health care systems in both countries. While health insurance is an important part of a health care system, it is only one of many dimensions. A health care system goes beyond insurance, covering aspects such as how hospitals and doctors are organized and paid, and the roles played by private industry and government. Perhaps most importantly, health care systems create incentives for all parties involved. As students will learn, incentives are often central to understanding the behavior of doctors, patients, and governments. Students interested in pursuing careers in health care, public policy, social work, and statistics may be especially interested in the topics addressed by this lesson.

Unit Goals

Each of the three lessons in this curriculum unit has specific learning objectives listed. The following are larger goals for the curriculum unit as a whole. In this curriculum unit, students will:

  • explore bioethical issues in a cross-cultural context;
  • learn about issues surrounding aging societies;
  • be introduced to health care systems; and
  • learn about insurance.