Humor by Greg Schwem

Certain things in life should be kept separate. Cheese fries and cholesterol screenings. Fourth-graders and "Bachelor Pad" episodes. Coupons and medical procedures.

I started thinking about the latter recently when an offer for two one-hour acupuncture sessions graced my inbox. "Try a new tack for beating pain with today's deal: $39 (regularly $145)," the email stated. "Grab this 73-percent-off deal, and stop waiting on pins and needles for your aches to disappear."

I've been getting these "deal-of-the-day" offers since I began subscribing to Groupon, the crazy popular website whose motto apparently is, "You don't need this but hey, it's cheap!"

Since joining Groupon I've purchased a large pizza from a nearby restaurant ($10 off $20) and Sunday brunch from a not so nearby pancake house ($15 off $30). Feeling guilty, I then bought a 30-day Fit Body Boot Camp membership ($187 off $227). I went to exactly three boot camp sessions before realizing that I would eventually need a Groupon for two artificial knees if I kept attending. I called the facility, told the receptionist to keep the 40 bucks and apologized for leaving large amounts of drool on the gym floor. Incidentally, there is now a Fit Body boot camp spot open for anyone who wants to work out to the sounds of an over-caffeinated Bulgarian trainer shouting, "Zat ees not a poooosh up!"

The acupuncture offer did not come from Groupon, but rather from AmazonLocal, an offshoot of whose motto is, "We want a piece of the action!" Seriously, is there any business Amazon does NOT compete with? It's only a matter of time before the site begins selling ballistic missiles to the Defense Department. Twenty percent off plus free shipping! Gift cards accepted!

Even my wife, the consummate queen of bargaining, seemed disturbed that a medical procedure would be marked down. Once on a cruise vacation, I watched her haggle with a 90-year-old Bahamian woman over the price of a straw hat. Out of sheer exhaustion the woman relented, parting with the hat for $8 instead of $10. Triumphantly, my wife returned to the ship and bought a $12 strawberry daiquiri without batting an eye.

But even she pays the asking price for prescriptions, doctor's visits and anything else that involves improved health. Sure, offering occasional blowout sales for surgeries, drugs and the like might curb this nation's health-care crisis but it would also lead to patients defiantly sitting in emergency rooms saying, "They told me it's going to cost $1,000 to close this head wound but I'm sure I can talk them down to $500. Can I get some more paper towels please?"

Lowering the price of anything medical also arouses suspicion that somebody is cutting corners. Fifteen years ago, I heard a radio spot featuring Tiger Woods touting an eye-care center that performed his Lasik surgery and gave him 20/20 vision. I called the center and was told Lasik cost $5,000. I swallowed hard but made the appointment anyway. While I don't have Tiger Woods' bank account, I wanted his eyesight. Unfortunately, years later Woods would realize that even 20/20 vision wouldn't allow him to see everything. A tree, for instance.

Several months after the surgery I saw an ad (much more clearly, thank you) from a competing center touting Lasik for the LOW LOW PRICE OF $99 PER EYE! And another one that screamed, "BUY ONE EYE. GET THE SECOND EYE FREE!" How, I wondered, could a technical procedure such as Lasik come with such a low price tag?

"Good question Mr. Schwem. We don't numb your eyes with medically-approved eye drops. Hot sauce works just as well!"

Get the point? That's why I just deleted the acupuncture deal. Even though my back is hurting as I hunch over my PC finishing this column, I'm not willing to cure it with somebody who is willing to knock 73 percent off his asking price. I'll find another way to control the pain.

Come to think of it, Sunday brunch always makes me feel better.

Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad.

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - Your Good Health ... for 50 Percent Off! - Greg Schwem Humor

Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services