For nearly two decades, I have been a resident doctor at the Mushroom Kingdom Hospital, in the Division of Virus Research. Patients depend on my Megavitamins to eradicate a seemingly never-ending stream of horrible viruses. Under a microscope, the viruses appear multicolored, with gloved hands and feet. Sometimes, they appear to have demonic faces. In my nightmares, they laugh at me.

The other day, Nurse Toadstool and I talked in the break room over reheated mushroom casserole. She appeared sad. She mentioned turning a Goomba away because his health insurance wouldn’t give him enough gold coins for treatment. Then I realized why the same viruses continue to appear again and again. Each time we turn a patient away for financial reasons, not only are we denying care to the poorest creatures, who often need it the most, but we’re putting the disease back into the world, where it continues to spread. Furthermore, the patients I do treat get hooked on my expensive medicine. Mushroom Kingdom’s health-care system has turned into a sick, addictive game.

Are we under one of Bowser’s spells? A basic human need like health care should not be monetized. Even our pack dinosaurs and humanoid mushrooms deserve coverage—a healthy workforce generates more points and 1-ups, increasing the chances of long-term gameplay for everyone. Clearly, a forward-thinking health-care plan, as seen in other gaming systems, some of which I will outline below, is the right choice. Yet even Princess Peach is full of disinformation on the subject. Why? It’s me, Dr. Mario. Fueled by my own self-interest, I prescribed my medication, wrote articles promoting it in respected publications, and played right into the HMOs’ greedy hands. Here are some of the myths I shamefully propagated.

Mushroom Kingdom has the best
health care of any gaming world

Consider the hostile planet Zebes, which the female warrior Samus liberated many years ago. The Metroid viruses native to that planet are as nefarious as they are diverse. Among the viruses cataloged are Side Hoppers, Geegas, and fire-generating Gerutas. But Zebes, a planet larger than the Mushroom Kingdom, has reformed its health system. Free help comes in the form of Chozo statues. Is there a waiting period to receive this help? Yes, and oftentimes one needs to fire a rocket at a red door just to get treatment. It’s a small nuisance when you consider that you get an energy orb that grants full life. Not even my Megavitamins can make that claim.

Universal health care would
cost us too many gold coins

In Sonic the Hedgehog’s idyllic, vibrant landscape, all a patient needs for protection is one golden ring. If a patient has more gold rings, he gets more coverage. There are no hidden fees. At my hospital, the real cost is when the game is over. No one wants to play Dr. Mario’s Paperwork Party, yet that’s what I must occupy myself with when all the viruses have been killed. A study in Nintendo Monthly estimates that our administrative costs are three times higher than those in the most efficient worlds (i.e., World of Warcraft, Fallout, and SimCity). The single-payer multiplayer system would take care of these overheads.

A government-run plan sounds
a lot like what Bowser wants

The king of all Koopas would love to take over every hospital in Mushroom Kingdom, to use them to extract Peach’s DNA or create a horrific suit that looks like me to trick the princess. But government-funded doesn’t mean government-run. I propose that we set up an oversight committee that would reside on Star World, a place linked to all of our lands. Its doings would be filmed by one of those Lakitu creatures, the sometimes-benevolent Koopas that fly in clouds. This committee would keep watch over the providers. It would see that free Megavitamins were distributed. Finally, it would research new health innovations, such as the powers of the rare Super Mushrooms.

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Hopefully, I have presented enough facts to explode these common myths. Time is running out, and we’re far from a checkpoint. Every major video-game franchise except the Mushroom Kingdom has a system that guarantees health care to its citizens. It should be a major concern that strength in Super Mario Galaxy is gained through the collection of gold coins. We must have free Megavitamins, easier access to refills, and less-time-consuming ways to defeat the viruses. If we stay healthy, we can go on more adventures. And since staying healthy is the ultimate benefit of universal health care, I’ll gladly give more of my tax money to the government. No cheat codes necessary.