This Controversial New App Will Spark Healthcare Discussion

Ever wanted to get your class talking about health care reform, the medical world, or simply to inform them about the insurance industry? A controversial new app for the iPhone / iPod Touch is a surefire way to get anyone talking. It’s called ‘Claim Denid!’ and is a tower defense-type game where you, I’m not kidding, are in charge of beating back hordes of sick and handicapped people. This retched but satirical game is offensive and absurd but can serve at least one useful purpose: starting the discussion. Here’s TUAW’s review of the app:

Ever wanted to have the horrible job of denying people health care so you can make your company more money? Me neither, but I’m a fan of tower defense games and got a kick out of the satire presented in Claim Denied! when a reader brought it to my attention.

Claim Denied! puts the player in the position of a young claims adjuster at a private health insurance company. Your job is to stop your paying customers who need medical care from getting to the hospital. Perched atop the hospital roof, you main weapon is a “Denied” rubber stamp you wield at the onslaught of needy patients. The more sick and elderly you stop, the more money you get paid and the more your job security (health-meter) rises. As you make money for denying patients, you can use your funds to buy more “weapons,” including stacks of paperwork you can drop in the infirm patients’ paths to slow them down, pre-existing condition clauses that cut patients’ health by 50% (making them easier to defeat), and finally, blue dogs that maul the sick who have kept up-to-date on their premiums. You can also use your funds to “lobby for job security” which effectively adds more power to your health-meter.

The game starts out a bit repetitive and easy, but as you progress, your “enemies” — including the obese, wheel-chaired, walkered, and pregnant — become stronger and harder to defeat. With over 50 levels and a satirical score, Claim Denied! would actually be fun if it didn’t hit so close to home for a lot of people. Still, for US$0.99, Claim Denied! isn’t a bad way to use your thumbs while on your evening commute — or in a waiting room. Sure, a game like this might inspire a little heated discussion, but that seems to be what the game’s creators were after in the first place. Plus, it’s always cool when technology — even games — can convey timely social satire.