“free” healthcare

a story i wrote for a sci fi class at my school:

He sat on the exam table looking down at the gown, still debating which direction to have the opening face.  He hated coming to the doctor, but he wondered who really liked going anyway.  He doubted that this was a new phenomenon.  There is a faint rap on the door, as though the doctor was distracted as he knocked.  The doctor walked in reading the chart, looking up at him just as he closed the door with a finality that made him nervous. 

 

“I’m looking here at your blood pressure, and it appears it’s elevated today.  Did you have coffee, smoke or have anything strenuous happen today?”

 

“Um, uh, not that I can recall…why?”

 

“Well, those things can raise your blood pressure.  I need to assess whether it was a one-time thing, or more permanent.  We know genetically you have a long history of heart disease and hypertension in your family, and based on our DNA analysis, we know you’re approaching the age when it will develop in you.”

 

Without allowing any further discussion, the doctor placed the electrode over his heart.  He watched and listened as it pierced his ears with its high pitch beep signaling its completion.  He barely glimpsed the numbers as the doctor removed it from his chest.  Even if he hadn’t seen the numbers, he saw his verdict.  The doctor scanned the chip in his arm and entered the new diagnosis.

 

Later that evening, he returned home, still thinking about the slew of monthly injections he was  now mandated to receive.  The cost was not a concern; the government had long ago decided to pay for healthcare.  It was more than that.  He had heard his friends and co-workers discuss the other ensuing changes that such a diagnosis led to.  He sunk into the couch and heaved a deep sigh.   His wife would be home in a few minutes, and he wondered whether she would already know or if he would have to tell her.  Despite everything he had been told about the genetics and inevitability, he still felt responsible for the diagnosis. 

 

He commanded the viewing screen to turn on.

 

“ERROR.  You are no longer authorized for access to this unit.”

 

It had already started.  He could deduce what his new “options” would be: exercise, relaxation techniques, etc.  He wondered if he sat on the couch long enough, would it chuck him off of it?  At that moment, his wife opened the door.  He begrudgingly raised his eyes to meet hers.  She knew. 

 

“I tried to order groceries to be delivered today, and lo and behold, I can no longer order ice cream.  What will the kids have for dessert?  What is the diagnosis?”

 

“Hypertension.”

 

It was like a death knoll.  To the government, it ran with the likes of diabetes and obesity.  Once they started paying for healthcare, it was easy for them to enact legislation deciding what you could and couldn’t do.  Very few people were still permitted to smoke cigarettes, which was primarily only tolerated because the government owned the cigarette companies as well.   The government was now able to control his diet, activity levels, and his habits.  It was a consequence that would reverberate throughout his home.  His children would no longer be able to watch the viewing screen with him in the room, and he now dictated the food they were permitted to eat. 

 

He knew he could tolerate it.  He had seen many others before him survive. 

 

 

 

the teacher said it was worthy of publication, but meh.  here it is.  published.

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