This is the Seattle Centers Fisher Pavilion, where the line for free healthcare will begin.
This is Seattle Center's Fisher Pavilion, where the line for free health care will begin. Kelly O

Try explaining the American health-care system to a European. Our health-care laws are so far from their reality that they have a hard time understanding it.

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"You'll go bankrupt if you get sick?" "You have to pay how much for a broken arm?"

They often can't fathom the cruelty and utter idiocy of our American system, that we would turn our backs on the poor and middle class so we can fill the pockets of rich health-care executives and the stock market. But for a few hours this weekend, our health-care system will look a little more European if you swing by KeyArena, where you can get free medical, dental, and vision services.

For the fourth year in a row, Seattle Center is hosting the Seattle/King County Clinic, which brings together a broad array of health-care providers and nonprofits to provide services to thousands of people. The clinic has provided almost $14 million in services to 16,300 people over the last three years, according to the clinic's annual report.

The clinic starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday (September 20–23) and will likely bring thousands of people to the Seattle Center. The only requirement for getting care is showing up and waiting in line. However, tickets are limited, so getting there early is a good idea. The line starts at a tent near Fisher Pavilion on the corner of Second Avenue North and Thomas Street and will open at 12:30 a.m. each day. Tickets will be handed out starting at 5 a.m. and will probably be limited to 1,000 tickets a day.

The line forms inside a heated and lit tent that has security and bathrooms. Organizers will issue only one ticket per person, but if you are unable to wait in line for an extended period of time, you can have someone wait in line for you—however, they will still get only one ticket (not one ticket for themselves and one for you).

All services are completely free and attendees do not need to provide any information to receive services. You will not be required to provide your employment, insurance, or immigration status. And the services are not limited to people who live in King County.

According to their yearly report, last year the clinic provided:
• $1.19 million in medical services to 2,361 people.
• $1.85 million in dental services to 2,297 people.
• $678,000 in vision care to 1,385 people.

The clinic also helps connect people with other services they can use outside of the weekend-long clinic. Volunteers and health-care navigators help attendees find resources for mental health, food assistance, housing assistance, and prescription drug costs. Nearly a thousand people were connected to these resources in 2017, according to the clinic's year-end report.

While it's great that this free clinic does exist, let's hope we will soon live in a country that doesn't require people to line up overnight to get their health care in a civic basketball arena once a year.

If you are interested in volunteering at the clinic, go HERE.

This is a depressing comic based on a real-world interview by David Lasky.
This is a depressing comic based on a real-world interview by David Lasky. Artist unknown/SeattleCenter.org