Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates
Three guys died at the same time and ended up in front of Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter said to the first guy, "Why should I let you in?" The guy answered, "I was a doctor and I helped many people get well." Saint Peter said, "Okay, you may come in." Saint Peter said to the second guy, "Why should I let you in?" The guy answered, "I was a lawyer and defended many innocent people." Saint Peter said, "Okay, you may come in." Saint Peter then said to the last guy, "And why should I let you in?" The guy answered, "Well, I was a managed health care professional and I helped to keep health care costs down." Saint Peter thought about this a moment and said, "Okay, you may come in, but you can only stay three days!"

Q: What does HMO stand for?

A: This is actually a variation of the phrase, "Hey, Moe!" Its roots go back to the concept pioneered by Dr. 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 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 will fall into two basic 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 half a 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 seem 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: I have an 80/20 plan with a $200 deductible and a $2,000 yearly cap. My insurer reimbursed the doctor for my outpatient surgery, but I'd already paid the bill. What should I do?

A: You have two choices: your doctor can sign the reimbursement check over to you, or you can ask him to invest the money for you in one of those great offers that only doctors and dentists hear about, like windmill farms and frog hatcheries.

Q: What accounts for the largest portion of health care costs?

A: Doctors trying to recoup their investment losses.

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, 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 in giving him a shot.

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

A: Poke yourself in the eye.

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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