“Don’t you think that before entering the Hunger Games, you’d want to make sure that you’re insured?”
“You know, Starbuck, you’re starting to realize that you can’t choose whether you are cylon race or not, wouldn’t you want to Earth to provide health care regardless of pre-existing conditions?”
“Back to the Future eh? We have definitely got some questions about your future!”
These were not the opening lines that we had thought we would be using to start a conversation about health care on our Patients Over Politics bus tour. Yet, as three medical students descended upon Dragon Con 2012 in Atlanta, we had no choice but to speak their language. Dragon Con is a science fiction convention that draws an attendance of 46,000 and encompasses five hotels in downtown Atlanta near Centennial Olympic Park. The convention runs thousands of hours of programming for fans of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and it shows. The city was crawling with costumed characters, all of which gathered into a giant parade where each person had the opportunity to demonstrate their devotion to character by marching in line with all the other people dressed as their character.
Still, the people we met pleasantly surprised us with their reactions to our campaign. Everybody has a stake in health care, even zombies. One of the characters I spoke to wore a thick black mask covering his entire face so that only his eyes could peer out at the flyer I held describing the ACA. He wore a red and white symbol on his jumpsuit that I did not recognize, so I asked him, “So… tell me about your character!” He paused, stood up straight and barked:
“The Umbrella Corporation is a major international player in pharmaceutical goods and medical supplies, along with secret operations of research of bio-organic weapons with the intention of anarchy.”
I paused as I listened to this description. I had been forewarned that one of the rules of Dragon Con was that over the course of the weekend, people would not be allowed to break character. Would an anarchist plotting bio-organic weapons of mass destruction sign our Declaration? The answer: Yes. “Yeah, I freaking hate the government, but health care’s cool.”
The other members of our team were having similar experiences. Ani and I met one girl wearing a “JOSS WHEDON IS MY MASTER NOW” t-shirt waiting to meet her friends. We outlined the Affordable Care Act. She paused to consider what we described and said, “Oh yeah! That totally makes sense. Everybody gets some because everybody needs some. I like it!”
Meghana was engaged in a half an hour debate with an ex-Marine who would be a prime candidate for benefitting from the new law. What was exciting to our tour and us was how many people did not understand how the new health care law affected their lives. We met people who were initially against the law, but in actuality, needed it to get the care that they needed. Dragon Con was a group of enthusiastic fans, many under the age of 26, who would qualify to be covered under their parents so that they don’t have to worry about not being able to afford getting sick and can focus on important things like the zombie apocalypse or where in the world is Carmen Sandiego. Play on.