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Short Story: "Health Care Reform"

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The health insurance reform debacle of 2009 had been the last straw. Desperate to protect its unconscionable business model, the industry had used their lackeys in the media to set neighbor against neighbor, and burnt through their war chest to strip the last shreds of self-respect from the senators and representatives in their pocket, the shills who fronted the worst piece of legislation ever conceived. And it all might have worked, too, if it hadn't been for an innocuous little clause buried in the body of that beast by an overzealous staffer.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

+ - - - + - - - +

Barry Oernstead had led a pretty uneventful life until that day. Sure, he'd had the usual assortment of childhood illnesses and injuries, but there was nothing in his medical file to suggest that he'd become such a problem for his new employer's health insurance company. He'd zipped through the forms checking off all the little boxes marked "No', until he came to one that had just been added the previous summer, when the insurance company decided to update all of their customer-facing documents. Barry paused for a few seconds, and reread the question.

"Have you had a DNA screening?'

Now, in point of fact, Barry had not, up until that point, even considered the possibility of having one. But it had been an annoying day on the job, and he didn't think it would make much difference, so he smiled sheepishly and reported that one had, indeed been performed.

He didn't think about it again until his cell phone rang one evening during dinner about a month later. "Barry," he said, not even glancing down at the caller ID.

"Mr. Oernstead," the unfamiliar female voice said, "this is Rhonda Kim, at your employer's benefits company. We're having a bit of trouble processing your enrollment form this year. I was wondering if you could clear something up for me."

"Sure. What's the problem?"

"You've reported having had a DNA screening, but we haven't been able to locate a report of it in the national medical records database. Do you have the paperwork somewhere?"

"Database?" he parroted.

"Sure. It's taken a while for us to hook up to it, but now that we are, we can correlate all of your doctor visits, tests, treatments and medications, regardless of where you might be when you need any sort of health care. So anyway... about that DNA test, Mr. Oernstead... can you get me a reference number for it?"

"Actually, um, no I can't."

"Well," she said, "if you've lost or misplaced the forms, we can try looking it up a few other ways."

He stifled a chuckle. "No, no, it's nothing like that. It's just that I didn't really have a screening. You can straighten that out, can't you?"

"You lied?" All of the color seemed to have left her voice.

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)
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