Numbers Can Lie – An Audit Can Mislead – Fuzzy Math Reigns

Numbers don’t lie! Or do they?

Two things to remember about numbers: first, the semantic premise imposed upon the calculation determines, in the eye of the unsuspecting, the “truth” which “supports” one’s contentions, i.e. “see I told you so, the audit proves we are getting screwed.” Second, numbers based on one methodology can be made to appear to change under a different methodology. And, multiple numerical entries can appear to skew a single numerical entry when totaled and compared as a percentage.

Consider three school district employees traveling to San Antonio on district business. They get off to a late start and arrive in the evening. They look frantically for a hotel, but all are booked. A national convention is in town, and there are no vacancies available.

But, finally, they get lucky. Tired, disheveled, they spot a “Room Available” neon blinking sign in front of the Blue Bonnet Motor Inn in South San Antonio. They ring for the attendant who finally appears and says “I have only one room left and the price is $30 cash.”

Relieved to find a temporary home for the evening, and resigned to the fact that all three would have to share the same room (what will the husband think of this Molly?” )  each plunked down $10 to pay the $30 daily rate – $10 X 3 = $30.

Shortly after encamping in their room, the hotel clerk realized he over-charged the three. The room was only $25 for the night, not $30. He called the Bell Hop and handed him five one dollar bills and said “Go to room 23 and give them a refund, I over-charged them.”

On the way to room 23, the Bell Hop, being a Democrat, decided requisition $2 and give each a $1 refund.

Here is the math – Each occupant paid $10-$1 = $9………………..$9 X 3 = $27    The Bell Hop Stole $2

Where is the missing $1?

Auditing PPO discounts   and payments can be conducive to a Fuzzy-Math-Out-of-Body-Experience. Careful attention must be made to (1) premise/s represented, (2) terminology employed and (3) Bell Hops.

And, fuzzy math can take a 25% cost increase down to a 10% increase very easily. It is done quite frequently in the insurance business. Anyone want to know how?

Editor’s Note: A good lawyer can make a bankrupt business look like MicroSoft, or vice versa. It’s done every day.