Did I Say That? An endless series of checkups

I went to the car dealer for my 75,000-mile checkup, an oil change and lube job, and came out with a $637 bill. When they looked under the hood, they said a lot of work absolutely needed to be done and warned me if I didn’t do it ASAP, my life and the lives of countless men, women, children, cats, dogs, and chipmunks would be in jeopardy.

I’m glad the service department doesn’t do dental repair because I would have walked away with a set of dentures and several implants.

When I take my car for a checkup, the mechanic always finds something that “needs” to be repaired because, he says, it’s going to break sooner or later. He claims “sooner,” but I believe it’s “later.” In the olden days, we waited for things to fall apart before we replaced them. This meant you were occasionally stranded several hours on the shoulder of I-95 at rush hour until AAA sent a tow truck because a hose sprang a leak. Nowadays, however, we rely on “preventive maintenance.”

United Healthcare should team up with AAA and create an auto healthcare plan so the next time I go to the mechanic and he says I need new brakes, I can fork over a $25 co-pay instead of $600. President Obama should have done this nation a great service by creating Obama(car)care. Now we’ll have to wait for Hillary Clinton to do it.

Car-care insurance would be a win-win-win-win … for me, the mechanic, the insurer, and the car. Insurance companies would make a killing as they always do, repair shops would make a killing as they always do, car owners would be paying a fraction of the cost as they never do, and the rest of the bill could be paid by the U.S. government, along with Social Security, Medicare and federal employee pensions. This means future generations would pay for my new Meineke muffler. How can you oppose a plan like that?

When you think about it, doctors are a lot like car mechanics because they’re always looking for things that need to be repaired. When I get my blood pressure and cholesterol checked, it’s like pulling the dipstick out of the crankcase. My EKG reminds me of the diagnostic computer the mechanic uses, and a colonoscopy is nothing more than tailpipe repair.

Plus, doctors are as persistent as my car dealer about the need for regular checkups. My primary care physician says I should go in twice a year, and my dentist, whose office was recently sold to a national chain, says I need two cleanings a year. As you know, chains are taking over everything from funeral homes and pharmacies to grocery stores, and they’re aggressive in marketing their services, so I’m constantly getting emails from the California headquarters, pestering me to “like” them on Facebook.

I recently filled out an online survey about customer satisfaction. My recommendation was to stop sending me emails and to give everyone a surprise raise. I asked at the office last week, but there haven’t been any surprise raises yet.

Now doctors won’t let you leave the office until you make your next appointment. I guess they all went to the same national conference where some sales guru gave a presentation that showed revenue would increase 30 percent if they didn’t let patients go without scheduling an appointment. I’d be willing to bet that my dog groomer was at the same conference, along with my dermatologist and my ophthalmologist. Consider this recent exchange:

Eye doctor assistant: You don’t have to come back until next April. Let’s schedule that. What date works for you?

Me: Huh? That’s a year away. Isn’t it premature to be making an appointment that far in advance? The world could end. I could go blind. I could be dead. The doctor could be dead. The economy could crash. Aliens could invade us.

Eye doctor assistant, persisting as if her surprise raise depends on getting me to make an appointment: This is very important. You should never put off eye care.

Me: Well, how about April 22?

Eye doctor assistant, checking calendar: Oh no! That’s Earth Day! The office is closed so we can celebrate. How about April 28?

Me: I already have an appointment … with my mechanic.