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*Frequently Asked Questions About Health Care*

Q. What does HMO stand for?

A. This is actually a variation of the phrase, "Hey, Moe!" Its roots go back to a concept pioneered by Doctor Moe Howard, who discovered that a patient could be made to forget about the pain in his foot if he was poked hard enough in the eyes. Modern practice replaces the physical finger poke with hi-tech equivalents such as voice mail and referral slips, but the result remains the same.

Q. Do all diagnostic procedures require pre-certification?

A. No. Only those you need.

Q. I just joined a new HMO. How difficult will it be to choose the doctor I want?

A. Just slightly more difficult than choosing your parents. Your insurer will provide you with a book listing all the doctors who were participating in the plan at the time the information was gathered. These doctors basically fall into two categories--those who are no longer accepting new patients, and those who will see you but are no longer part of the plan. But don't worry--the remaining doctor who is still in the plan and accepting new patients has an office just a half day's drive away!

Q. What are pre-existing conditions?

A. This is a phrase used by the grammatically challenged when they want to talk about existing conditions.

Unfortunately, we appear to be pre-stuck with it.

Q. Well, can I get coverage for my pre-existing conditions?

A. Certainly, as long as they don't require any treatment.

Q. What happens if I want to try alternative forms of medicine?

A. You'll need to find alternative forms of payment.

Q. My pharmacy plan only covers generic drugs, but I need the name brand. I tried the generic medication, but it gave me a stomach ache. What should I do?

A. Poke yourself in the eye.

Q. What should I do if I get sick while traveling?

A. Try sitting in a different part of the bus.

Q. No, I mean what if I'm away from home and I get sick?

A. You really shouldn't do that. You'll have a hard time seeing your primary care physician. It's best to wait until you return, and then get sick.

Q. I think I need to see a specialist, but my doctor insists he can handle my problem. Can a general practitioner really perform a heart transplant right in his office?

A. Hard to say, but considering that all you're risking is the $10 co-payment, there's no harm giving him a shot at it.

Q. Will health care be any different in the next century?

A. No, but if you call right now, you might get an appointment by then.

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