Readers boo medical debt and viral threats to win Halloween haikus

You’ve done it again, readers! We received more than three dozen Halloween haiku submissions in KHN’s fourth annual Halloween Haiku Contest. Our expert panel of judges took on the daunting challenge of choosing the best head-on … or off. Here’s the winner, which was last week’s “What’s the Health?” A Julie Rovner recited podcast, plus a sampling of the finalists illustrated by Ona Tempest. The judges’ favorite drew inspiration from real-life viral outbreaks and the burden of ghastly medical bills. Keep an eye on KHN’s social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) for more of our favorites Enjoy!

1st place

A pen and ink cartoon of a witch lying on the floor, staring menacingly at her cell phone  A black cat is standing on its belly and pawing at the window above them.  Outside, you can see ghost images of the following viruses: Covid-19, Ebola, Monkeypox and Influenza.
(Ona Tempest/KHN)

covid, ebola,
Monkeypox, seasonal flu –
Who needs Halloween?

Paul Hughes-Cromwick

Inspiration: 24/7 ghosts, goblins and pathogens



2nd place

A pen and ink cartoon depicting the mythical headless horseman wearing a business suit and racking up staggering medical bills.
(Ona Tempest/KHN)

Prevent surprise billing,
Like the famous headless horseman,
remains incomplete.

Michael L. Millenson

Inspiration: “How to avoid surprise bills – and pitfalls in the new law”


3rd place

A pen and ink cartoon.  Two skeletons, one of which is a robed man, face each other and scratch their heads, looking confused by their reflection in a nearby mirror.  A small spider hangs between them, holding a mask.

Disgusting, disgusting, sick!
Mask up as you trick-or-treat,
But not for covid?

Mickey Jackson

Motivation: Running is not mask-or-masquerade


Although Halloween may be over, KHN reporting continues year-round. Send us your haiku Any time for possible inclusion in our morning briefing: https://khn.org/contact-haiku/

(Ona Tempest/KHN)

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