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YOU THINK YOU HAVE INDIGESTION? WAIT'LL YOU GET DINGERSCOPE BILL

Here's what they don't tell you about health-care costs. Every day someone invents a machine to save people's lives. Once it comes onto the market, doctors are obligated to use it. If they don't, some lawyer will accuse them of malpractice. So the more the invention is used the higher the cost of medical care.

For example, let's look at the Dinger- scope, a new nuclear camera that permits the physician to examine every part of the human body.This allows medical personnel to tell whether a patient is lying on his stomach or his back. Once this has been established by the machine, doctors are able to use the 50 other machines at their disposal to treat patients.

The cost of using the Dingerscope is $14,000, which does not include a 15 percent tip for the technician.

Here's an example of what we're talking about:

Stephanie Stefanini is brought into the hospital for possible acid indigestion. The doctor is prepared to prescribe medicine, costing $1.50, when one of the residents tells him that the Dingerscope has arrived. She suggests that they use it to establish if there is any gas associated with the stomach ache or not.

"That's a good idea," the doctor says. "How long will it take to prepare the patient for the machine?"

"Two days," the resident tells him. "It's just a question of availability. There is quite a line ahead of us."

"How much will it be?" Stephanie asks.

The doctor responds, "Please be quiet or you'll only aggravate your indigestion when you find out how much it costs."

Then the doctor turns to the resident and says, "Dr. Chris Spurney is in charge of the Dingerscope. Call him and ask him when we can come down."

"Dr. Spurney is playing golf because it's Wednesday. Dr. Jon Swerdloff is doing the Ding today, but there is a surcharge because the insurance company says that he's not qualified."

Meanwhile, Stephanie is becoming more and more uncomfortable and begs for fast relief.

"Mrs. Stefanini, my job as a physician is to use every piece of equipment in this hospital. Since we have the machine it would be a betrayal of my Hippocratic Oath if I didn't put you under it."

The resident announced that the Ding was ready, and Stephanie was wheeled down into the lead-lined basement.

A technician entered the room and rubbed some ointment on Stephanie's stomach. Then he signaled his assistant to pull the lever. Out of the side of the machine came a piece of microfilm and a stick of bubble gum. The doctor read it and then handed Stephanie an Alka Seltzer. Her final bill was $25,000.