Readers, beware! There’s a bitter chill in the air and bloodcurdling screams coming from our newsroom. We received more than five dozen spooky submissions to KFF Health News’ fifth annual Halloween haiku contest. Here’s the winner and the top runners-up, illustrated by Oona Tempest. The judges’ favorites were inspired by school nurse shortages and the nation’s gut-wrenching medical debt crisis. Keep an eye on KFF Health News’ social media accounts (X, formerly known as Twitter; Instagram; and Facebook) for more of our favorites. Enjoy! 

1st Place

Costumed coughs in school! 

Kids seek care but find instead 

A ghostly nurse chair. 

— Madeline Steward 

2nd Place

Other countries ask: 

Medical debt, what is that?  

Hospitals say, “Boo!” 

— Tom Cook 

3rd Place

Bobbing for apples. 

Drowning in medical debt. 

Either way, get wet. 

— Brynne McBride 

While Halloween may be coming to an end, KFF Health News reporting continues year-round. Send us your haikus at any time for possible inclusion in our Morning Briefing:

2022 Halloween Haiku Contest Winners

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.