Good health is yours. . . if you can afford it

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For most of us, getting our health checked is a patchwork arrangement. While some people go to the doctor for a yearly checkup, most only drop in when something hurts, we've turned a funny color, or we can't stop coughing.

Once we're up on the crinkly, paper-covered table, we go through the regular list of low-level checks, including things like reflexes, blood pressure, and eye dilation--basically, all the tests necessary to establish that we aren't actually dead. Once the doctor has a pretty good idea of what's wrong, we end up with a few more procedures, which are generally scheduled at the most inconvenient times possible.

Ultimately, we get to return to the hospital several times over a period of days or weeks, fighting both our symptoms and a low-level fear that we've picked up the 48-hour Ebola that's going around.
Of course, the Bataan Death March through the hospital corridors ends up paling in comparison to the misery of the Kafkaesque negotiations with health insurers. The doctor, worried about eating the cost of the treatment, tends to be excessively cautious about prescribing unnecessary tests, and we get to hope that his or her caution doesn't mean that something really huge ends up falling by the wayside. In the meantime, we also get to look forward to wrangling with our insurance companies when they can't figure out why we would possibly have wanted to know if we had leprosy.

This is one of those places in which being rich really makes life better. Recently, New York's Mount Sinai Hospital has developed a "Program for Diagnostic and Preventive Medicine." For a premium fee, generally around $7,000, patients can schedule the hospital's version of a spa day. In between numerous pre-scheduled tests and physical exams, customers get to hang out in a fully-equipped private office, complete with a computer and a phone. When hunger pangs kick in, they get a gourmet lunch and when the day's over, they have a full and complete understanding of their body's current physical state.

Now, if I could only get that health plan!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. From what he understands, his health plan stipulates that, if he gets sick, he and his family officially become enslaved to the medical establishment.
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