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Flower-Faced Owls Offer Free Healthcare (A Sci-fi Medical Scenario)

Updated on December 20, 2017


In the Genotopia novel series, animals have been genetically modified with superpowers that can cure a multitude of bizarre diseases, and are referred to as “genopets.” Humans are segregated into clans based on race, and each clan is responsible for training a specific species of genopets to combat a specific category of diseases. One such clan is the Barnation Clan. The humans are of Barnationese racial descent, and the genopets they train are giant, eight-foot-tall Barn Owls with a white carnation for their faces and purple leaves in place of feathers on their wings and tails. They are one of the eight clans in a League, and their Health Center is paid by the health insurance companies of the eight clans in their own League (that is how health insurance works in this world; if a patient goes to another clan’s Health Center and they are not in a League with that clan, they will either have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for treatment, or they’ll receive treatment for free if the clan is generous enough).

A Healer named Kyanne is in the Barnation Clan. Currently, their Health Center is flooded with people of the Snowl Clan, which is a clan that’s not in the same League as the Barnation Clan. The Barnation Clan has decided to allow Snowlian people and their Snowl genopets come to their Health Center for free treatment. In 1-2 sentences (or more if needed), discuss the problems that the Barnation Clan can encounter for treating these foreign clan members for free.

The Barnation Genopet Species


MY RESPONSE: It takes up a lot of energy to use superpowers for any purpose. Thus, the Barnations will be using up a lot of energy while healing others, so if they are healing a bunch of genopets and humans for free, it will eventually become more difficult to afford any energy sources (i.e., food, supplements, etc.) to restore the energy they lose from healing. Consequently, treating an entire clan for free would literally overwork the Barnation genopets until their superpowers become too weak to be effective, leading to a decrease in quality of care. Not to mention that there will be fewer genopet healers per patient and shorter time spent per patient.

RESPONSE 1: The healers, like Kyanne, will be overworked and probably underpaid (if the government is using funds to treat citizens of other clans for free, less will be available for overtime payment or raises). This will cause unrest in the midst of a competition for time and resources, which could lead to strikes or even rebellion.

RESPONSE 2: The cost problem is obvious––treating many people for free will undoubtedly mean the Barnation Clan will need to spend a lot to help the Snowlians. There may be other problems, though. Do the Barnationese understand Snowlian biology and health enough that they can actually treat the Snowlians effectively? A treatment that helps a Barnationese person may not help (and may even harm) a Snowlian person. What do the other Barnationese think? If they are paying for their own health care, do they resent healers such as Kyanne for providing free care to foreign clan members, or do they support Kyanne’s efforts even though it may cost them more? Will there continue to be Snowlians flooding the Barnation Clan’s center? If so, then treating them for free may not be a sustainable long-term solution, if the underlying cause of the Snowlians’ exodus to the Barnation Clan is not dealt with.

RESPONSE 3: I mean one foreseeable problem could simply be overcrowding and access to resources. If health centers are only designed to treat a certain clan and a set number of people, there could be resource limitations if the number of patients who receive free care doubled because the access became easier and more available.

RESPONSE 4: There might be disapproval from other clans in the same League as the Barnation clan, for allowing free treatment to such a large outsider group. There might also be disapproval from other clans outside of the League of the Barnation Clan, seeing the Barnation Clan as unfair for giving special privileges to a whole entire outsider clan.

My comments: I liked how this respondent raised the idea that other clans may also have a negative point of view about the Barnations offering free treatment. Preferential treatment to a single clan outside the League would most likely be seen as unfair.

RESPONSE 5: Although the genopets can cure a multitude of diseases, there are problems that can arise because of efficiency and longevity of these genopets. In terms of efficiency, there are only so many genopets; if the disease burden increases great, there are not enough genopets to cure humans fast enough before some die. From a longevity perspective, the genopets might get tired or worn out and eventually die because the people the are forced to treat. Both of these issues can be described as a scarcity of resources.

RESPONSE 6: If Barnation Clan does not have enough resources for themselves, this could compromise the safety of their own clan. However, I think the benefits (good favor with Snowl Clan and helping others) outweigh the costs, assuming the Barnation Clan’s economy can handle the loss of resources.

RESPONSE 7: I honestly don’t see a downside to treating non-league members for free. If genopet healing powers are a finite resource, the only downside would be faster depleting of healing resources. But a healthier society sounds like it would benefit both Barnation and the Snowl Clan.

RESPONSE 8: If the precedent is that out-of-League patients typically must pay out-of-pocket for healthcare, whenever another clan’s members request treatment by the Barnation clan they will need to have a legitimate rationale for providing treatment to the Snowl clan free of charge but not doing the same for every other clan’s members. If they do not have an objective explanation, this could become the subject of a racial injustice scam.

My comments: It’s great to point out that having a good reason to offer free treatment to one specific clan, or any particular person/genopet. That raises the question of what qualifies as a “good reason.”

© 2017 Michelle Dalson


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    • Michelle Dalson profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Dalson 

      12 months ago

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for the comment! I was hoping this article would stimulate thinking among those who read it, just as it did for those who responded to the question prompt, so I'm glad you found it interesting.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an unusual and interesting article. It's thought provoking, too! I enjoyed reading it.


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