The Annual Physical and Other Scams

Begging the Doc for Prescriptions Is Bad Enough, But Must I Have a Date With Him Every Year?

by Burton S. Blumert by Burton S. Blumert

The dialogue was all too familiar:

BLUMERT: No, I don’t need an appointment with Dr. Kaloofka (see: "I Hate Doctors"). All I do need is for you to call Walgreen’s with a prescription for Vandoors, I don’t recognize your voice, but I’m a long-time patient. Please check your files.

VOICE FROM HELL (V FROM H): Yes, Mr. Blumert and as long as I have you on the phone, let’s spend a minute bringing your file up-to-date. Here goes:

Are you still a proponent of Midwifery, Health Food stores, Chiropractic and other zany cultlike activities?

Are you still overweight and slovenly?

BLUMERT: Hold it! I don’t have time for this nonsense. What else is in that file of yours?

V FROM H: Your file reveals that we have prescribed Vandoors 6 times over the past 8 years. Have you become addicted to Vandoors, Mr. Blumert? We are constantly on the alert for drug abuse. Have you considered seeking help?

BLUMERT: My dear Miss Who-ever-you-are, Vandoors is a skin ointment which combats warts. I no longer choose to speak to you. Would you kindly ask Dr. Kaloofka to come to the phone immediately.

V FROM H: Yes, I now see it on your chart. Warts. Tee hee, I’ve never heard of anybody having warts on—

BLUMERT: Enough! In less than 12 minutes I will be arriving at the doctor’s office.

Have my file ready for me to pick up and if you are still around when I get there, it’s likely I will strangle you with my bare hands.

V FROM H: Oh, don’t be such a grouch. I was only trying to be friendly. I’ll call Walgreen’s right now and I hope you get rid of those warts. Tee hee. You must laugh out loud every time you think about them.

BLUMERT: Keep in mind that a physician has a privileged relationship with his patient. That extends to his dizzy receptionist as well. So, just forget about my warts.

V FROM H: OK, I’ll only tell my husband, I promise. By the way, Dr. Kaloofka has you scheduled for your annual medical check-up on October 9. Remember, no food or water for one week prior to the exam.

BLUMERT (beaten): I’ll be there.


Life is filled with petty indignities as above. To maintain sanity and longevity, one must build defenses: "Know your own worth," "Brush the cretins off," "Consider the source," "Don’t be marginalized by midgets." (I just made that one up.)

So fortified, I only spent two days in bed after the confrontation with the V FROM H.

Friends and enemies alike are dazzled with such resiliency.


I must admit, thinking about my scheduled AMC-up, shortened my rehabilitation.

Why was I so submissive in agreeing to it? Is the procedure valid, or just another chunk of mythology that we inherit at birth?

Consumed with the challenge of the project, I set out to learn the origins of the AMC-up.

Predictably, there are competing theories as to how it all happened; I present them to you without bias.


It was the winter of 1913, in Troy, New York, and two young physicians were faced with closing down their shared medical practice for lack of patrons.

Dr. COHEN: I have no idea where the patients have gone. Could it be that they are just not getting sick, or maybe they’re all broke and taking their ailments to the Free Clinic?

Dr. KELLY: Well, there’s always a job in the US Army. With 3 or 4 wars on the horizon, they will be creating an abundance of patients for the indefinite future.

Dr. COHEN: No, there has to be a better way. Whenever my father’s wholesale dress business was in trouble, he had a Sale. How can we get customers, oops, make that patients, to fill the Waiting Room? We need the medical equivalent of a Sale.

Dr. KELLY: I’ve got it! Our own patient base is the best source of business.

After my uncle bought his Model T Ford he was told to bring it back to the dealership for regular "check-ups." He originally paid $440 for the car, but has spent double that to keep it running. Some of the problems were discovered during those routine "check-ups."

The primitive Cohen-Kelly AMC-up program spread through the medical community like a prairie fire. Soon, Madison Avenue types were writing brilliant copy.

"You had better get an annual medical check-up, or you will die," was the essence of their message.

After all, it was a time when scientific progress was seen as inexorable. Every disease would be stamped out and life expectancy would be significantly extended.

It was not surprising that the concept of the AMC-up quickly became part of standard medical procedure.

(As a footnote: the two physicians, Cohen and Kelly, prospered. Later on, sadly, Dr. Kelly changed his name and drank himself to death. Cohen became an ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War and was executed by a Franco firing squad when he refused to discard his red beret).


Little is known about the disease Northern Puppick Fever, nor its cure. There is lore that it appeared in the Maine woods during the summer of 1914, killed and then disappeared forever — HYPOCHONDRIAC’S MEDICAL DICTIONARY.

A young biologist had just exposed himself to the bite of a Warp Headed Beetle. He faced certain death if his theory was correct; The harmless looking little bug carried Northern Puppick Fever. Sadly, he was right.

Within seven hours the young man was dead, but there was the hint of a smile on his face and his dead eyes were frozen on a note in his hand.

We will never know the exact wording of the note, but old-timers I interviewed advised that the lumber company doctors, following the heroic biologist’s instruction, instituted an AMC-up.

We don’t know what it was they looked for, nor what they prescribed if they found it.

We do know that the AMC-up made Northern Puppick Fever disappear forever. And, monetary profit played no part in the drama.

Benevolence, as a motive to save lives by using AMC-ups, has also become part of medical ritual. Unfortunately, most of the non-profit research comes from Government laboratories, or those labs under contract to the state.

Granted, there are some really decent folks who advocate AMC-ups to keep people alive and healthy, but I’m perfectly comfortable with "Profit" as the driving force behind the Annual Medical Check-up.

The constant risk is that such a "check-up" becomes economically viable ONLY IF SOME DEFICIENCY IS REVEALED.

In another time, the guy who pumped gas often found that the hoses under your hood were frayed and, for safety sake, needed to be replaced.

As a consumer, there are times I’ll buy the AMC-up, at other times not. As always, the consumer must maintain constant vigilance.

The concept of an "annual check-up" is a compelling merchandising concept. So compelling that I am creating Blumert’s Annual Gold Check-up.

My Gold Check-up will scientifically analyze the individual’s economic circumstance; it will explore his psychological make-up. Vital questions will be answered: Is it possible there is a genetic family link to gold? And, most important, how much brain damage has been caused by the pollution of the "war on gold"?

Once the Check-up is completed, the patient and Gold Dealer consult about the report’s findings. Finally, the prognosis and the recommended prescription to achieve and maintain proper Gold health.

I have a strong premonition that every Annual Gold Check-up will indicate that the patient is woefully deficient and in need of some gold coins, NOW.

Please call our offices to schedule an appointment for your Annual Gold Check-up.