‘Dr. Mario’ gets a hellish health insurance makeover to protest American healthcare system

“Life gets harder with bad health insurance. So we felt the quickest way to communicate that idea was to make 'Dr. Mario' harder too”

There’s now a version of Dr. Mario that gets harder depending on the quality of your real-world health insurance.

With the closure of Dr. Mario World in the middle of last year, Dr. Mario Insurance aims to fill the void. Instead of taking the good doctor mobile, however, Dr. Mario Insurance uses your real-world insurance information to make the game much harder.

Developed by Steven Nass and Ivy Hu and playable right here, the game promises that “the worse your insurance is, the harder the game gets,” even if it looks like the classic pill-rotating game on the surface. The game’s difficulty is dependent on which of the four healthcare plans you choose and the deductible in US dollars. Naturally, the higher the deductible, the harder Dr. Mario Insurance will become, adding layers of pills straight away.


“The idea originally started as a joke about how absurd it would be to add real bureaucratic steps into Dr. Mario,” Nass told NME. “So we kind of stumbled backwards into making a point, but we hope it does resonate.”

Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Credit: Nintendo

According to Nass, the four available healthcare plans in the game were originally going to offer players much more choice to hammer home “another layer of bureaucracy,” but it didn’t end up coming to pass.

“The original vision for this game was to make the insurance section much longer and more arduous, requiring you to fill out everything you would have to fill out on a real intake form (including insurance number, social security number, emergency contact, etc),” explained Nass. “But we quickly realised no one would ever feel comfortable giving us that information (even if I assure you, I’m not nearly smart enough to figure out how to store that information).”

At the bottom of the game’s webpage, Dr. Mario Insurance links to donations for Medicare-for-All, with each donation going between Blue America and different politicians that have agreed to be a co-sponsor of the Medicare-for-All legislation in Congress. Those wishing to donate here must be over 18-years-old and a US citizen.

“Life gets harder with bad health insurance,” added Nass. “So we felt the quickest way to communicate that idea was to make Dr. Mario harder too.”


In other news, the PlayStation Plus tier revamp has gone live in the US, with Resident Evil Director’s Cut making the list.

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