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1%-er meets a 1% chance

Ninja 500

Ninja 500

This test shows a trace. I’m referring you to a specialist.

Hey doc, the specialist is booked out two months. Do you have another?

Oh, two months is no problem. This isn’t anything urgent. Wait and see him.

That was two months ago.

The third floor of one of the more expensive buildings in Idaho’s population center has a long lobby down the middle with specialty shops zig-zagging down both sides. Each of these sports a reception counter staffed by two women and two computers. They guard a doorway with 8 plaques sporting names of anointed experts in very narrow fields. There is an array of waiting chairs, magazine tables, aquariums and art work across the front-lawn of carpet from each of the pairs.

Forty minutes after my arrival, I get my audience with my assigned Expert. You seem to be in great health, no problems, all seems fine, but there are a couple of tests we like to do just to be sure.

Yeah, I bet there are… to be sure your next BMW payments are covered. (No, I didn’t say that).

There’s a one percent chance this could be something bad and we would like to eliminate those possibilities.

C’mon, there’s a once percent chance a whole lot of things can go wrong in my life in the next few years. You have to give me something more attractive than that. One percent is all you can offer? (Yeah, I did say that).

Well, but we could prevent a serious problem if we catch it early.
I’ll write it up and if you change your mind you can call and schedule the procedures.

At a third workstation is another administrative staff member for out processing. Price check, please. Twenty four hundred dollars. You bet I’ll think about it. Two month’s pay for a one percent chance of early discovery of a problem you might be able to solve. I sought a second opinion when I got home (from an expert in a much wider range of subjects near and dear to my heart). Same conclusion.

I don’t much care how much of it is “out of pocket” and how much is “co-pay”. I didn’t even ask. That is just too dang much money for such a low probability of doing anything at all useful.

Not too long ago, doctors practiced based on 99% probabilities. “This is probably X; do Y and call me if it doesn’t get better”. Somehow that practice got a whole bunch of us to 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 years old. Now they are consuming a quarter of the world’s earned income chasing 1% chances for people we used to call hypochondriacs.

As I perambulated back across the mall to Elevator Bank A, one of my observations from the trip in was reaffirmed. At 61, I was about the youngest non-staff member on the third floor. The retirees have found something to amuse themselves with on Thursday afternoons between nap time and the Bingo game. Let’s talk to some young, titled strangers about my bodily functions and earn bragging rights from being the object of exotic tests with expensive equipment.

That Ninja 500 I saw on Craigslist for $2,400 sounds like a much better value. I wonder what the co-pay is on it.