Rich People Now Buying Ultra Fancy Medical Care You Can't Afford

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Well, slather my top hat in Russian caviar. It appears that as basic medical care becomes inaccessible to a growing number of Americans, the ultra-rich are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars per year so they don't have to suffer through the same crappy health care that bankrupts the rest of us plebes. So what crazy


The Scrooge MacDucks and Mitt Romneys of America don't want to deal with the crap the rest of us deal with — the setting up an appointment, the showing up on time for the appointment and having to fill out the redundant paperwork about how many times you've been pregnant and whether your family has a history of glaucoma. The finally being called in and weighed and blood pressured and told to sit in a boring room and the waiting like 25 minutes while you read all the posters for the doctor to breeze in for 5 minutes. The paternal lecture from the doctor about how if you want babies, women have to gain weight in the hips or the babies will not have any food (although that may just be my Ukrainian doctor who always sends me skipping on my way with Polish candy and a dire warning about my biological clock).

At any rate, God didn't make money so people who had money would be forced to endure what The Normals endure. And thus, a new subindustry within the medical field is growing: boutique practices that only accept a small number of families as patients. Wealthy families sometimes pay upwards of $30,000 per year to assure that they can receive luxurious, high-end treatment for their sailing-related injuries or dangerous allergic reactions to Ralph Lauren cashmere sweaters. And their doctor not only makes house calls, but is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

But having a family doctor that makes house calls isn't that exorbitant an indulgence. Where the super wealthy veer into Howard Hughes territory is in the installation of private in-home emergency rooms, the purchase of top-of-the-line equipment on par with what's available to the President in the White House, and services that provide clients with medical care when traveling overseas. One company that installs in-house medical exam rooms runs a 24 hour "situation room" in Virginia, and patients can teleconference with doctors about their impacted bowels or addiction to Dior or whatever.

Jokes about monocles popping out and gilded stethoscopes aside, the wealthy's preference for exclusive, high end health care is pushing doctors to gravitate toward offering services for wealthy folks who can pay cash rather than wading through the bureaucratic nightmare that is insurance companies. According to Bloomberg, the US currently suffers from a fairly serious (and growing) shortage of doctors who are general practitioners, and when doctors move to smaller practices that only accept high-end clients, health care becomes less accessible to the 99%.

But maybe poor people should've thought of that before they got sick or old.

Wealthy families skip waiting rooms with concierge medical plans [Bloomberg]


Kat Callahan

The answer is to not be poor.

At least that's what all my conservative friends keep telling me. "You want to get healthcare, why don't you get a better paying job?" Riiiiiiiiiiiight. I'll go right out and do that in this economy with high unemployment.