I’ll take “Doctors and Auto Mechanics” for $500, Alex

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doctors feeIf only.

Okay, you know where this is going, so let’s get right into it.

As mentioned previously, I had a weird August.  Filled with mishaps and money-draining misadventures.  A lot of those events revolved around the health of me and my vehicle.

The similarities between “healers”, doctors and mechanics, is quite pronounced.  You go in for one problem and they find a bunch more to “suggest” you fix.  Cases in point…

My Mother the Car

Well, maybe not that close, but when you’ve been driving a vehicle for a long time and it not only runs great but it fills all your wants and needs, not many relationships can say that.

I’m loathe to give up the Avalon, even with it reaching a venerable 10 years old.  Though cars age more like dog years, the vehicle has surprisingly few repair needs.  Sure, I’m a “safe” driver, but the car is just well made and, frankly, fits like a favorite pair of shoes.

Recently, I had been looking to solve a squeak in the front of the car.  I presumed it was brakes, since it only made the sound once, in the morning, while backing out with my foot on the brakes.  Yeah, genius level, huh?

One of the good things about owning the same vehicle so long is you get to know its normal sound and therefore its abnormal ones stick out.

The dealership couldn’t find the squeak, but was able to uncover $1600 of other repairs they “suggested” I could do.  I agreed (I always agree…I keep my car in tip-top shape).  It helps that I’ve been doing business with them for 20 years, so it’s not just an upsell.

Fortunately, I do budget for car expenses and, though all in one lump, the amount fell within my annual expectations.   No way I could have this big a car with all the trimmings for the roughly $150 per month it will cost me this year.

But it’s still a nervous time visiting the auto doctor…er…mechanic, wondering what undisclosed “illness” they can bill me for.

Physician, bill thyself

Better him than me!

I prefer not to carry medical insurance.  It’s a practical decision, based on my good health and actual medical costs.

Currently, I visit three doctors regularly:  dentist, optometrist and dermatologist.  I can now add a fourth, M.D., based on yesterday’s exam and official appointment.

All my other doctors send reminder notices to make an appointment.  For some reason, M.D.’s don’t, or at least this one doesn’t.  So I simply don’t go.  This time, I agreed to make an appointment.  It seems goofy to make an appointment  a year in the future (who knows where I’ll be in a year), but they at least agreed to send me a reminder when the appointment draws near.

Now, I’ve mentioned before the canny skill of my dermatologist to find new ways to charge me.  When there’s no real work to be done (and thus bill me), he whips out the trusty ol’ freezer can and blasts away at the top of my head.  Of course, it has to be the top of the head, right?  Otherwise, I might be able to say, “What are you blasting in the first place?”  It’s doubly confusing, considering I always wear a hat when out in the sun for more than a few minutes.

So, it was no surprise that the M.D. found a couple of things “wrong” with me (i.e., ka-ching).  In his defense, he won’t be getting to bill me directly, but I’m sure his pals he recommended will take him to dinner or send him a nice bottle of something at Christmas.

Obviously, like the mechanic, I’ll opt for the repairs.  Kidding aside, I was already planning on one of the procedures, since it was “that time” again (the enticing colonoscopy) and the other (a hernia?) I don’t feel, but it’s an outpatient surgery, so it can’t be too bad.

The only problem with the latter “repair” is that he suggested it might mean a month away from tennis.  I guess I’ll plan that for the winter, since I don’t care to play in cold weather.

Now, this might sound expensive, but really, outside of “Captain Cold” at the dermatology exam, the costs are reasonable (so far) without insurance.  $125 for the M.D. visit/stitches removal/physical; $150 for the blood work.  Around $100 apiece for the optometrist and dentist, too.

Compared to a “reasonable” health plan at $400 a month plus a deductible, my decision to “self pay” makes good financial sense…as long as I stay healthy.  Heck, even straight up, a colonoscopy should only cost $1,000 to $1,500, still well below annual insurance costs.  Eventually, I will pick up a health plan with the expectation that age and genetics will someday take its toll.

In the meantime, I think I ended up with the Daily Double!

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