Health care insurance reform and medical research in the United States have been driven by metaphor and narrative. Obama's year-long reform effort effectively used the narrative of social progress (and the compelling stories of his dying mother and grandmother and their bitter experiences with the health care and insurance systems). Narrative, in the form of a quest, is usually reserved to support medical research. The quest narrative has, for example, been a staple of both “personalized” and regenerative medicine. The quest narrative, paired with stories of dying patients, has had a profound, and not always positive, effect on the way we package and sell both medicine and medical research in the United States, causing us to favor the latter at the expense of the former. We will have to supplement the pervasive quest narrative not with stories about lives that could have been made better by more medical research, but rather with lives that have a beginning, a middle, and an end—inevitable and not to be fought at all costs—and that deserve decent, quality health care throughout.

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