Wall Street-types in Manhattan now think that doctors who accept private insurance are inadequate for their gilded bodies. Welcome to the world of concierge medicine on steroids:
The health care market in New York is sufficiently unusual that members of the affluent classes routinely question the merits of doctors who do take insurance. How could the doctor satisfied to receive a $20 co-pay also be the doctor skilled enough to know that your palm’s itch is really the early sign of something rare and disfiguring?How much extra will these titans of Wall Street pay for doctors not exposed to the disgusting bodies of lawyers and professors (not to mention the filthy wretched masses who dispose of their toxic medical supplies)?
It is not simply that check-ups will be offered and ailments tended to in the way of standard concierge practices, where the average annual fees run $1,400 to $1,700 a year nationally; the practice will take a comprehensive, methodical approach to life extension. Dr. Yadegar envisions administering state-of-the-art screenings that use biochemical markers to identify potential predictors of cancer; consulting on limiting exposure to toxins; and networking with personal trainers. Dr. Yadegar will also offer dermatological fillers — come for the stress test, stay for the collagen.
In New York it is impossible not to notice that the wealthy will pay dearly for things, and they will pay especially high sums for those things they believe other wealthy people don’t have. Similarly it is hard not to notice the alienation felt by those in the highly educated professional class who have been forced to concede so much of their status to friends and acquaintances who have elected to make 200 times as much money on Wall Street, providing one one-hundredth the social utility. The arrival of a kind of Goldman Sachs of family practices was in some sense inevitable.
All of this led him and a new partner, Daniel Yadegar, a cardiologist and specialist in integrative and anti-aging medicine, educated at Harvard and Cornell, to embark on a whole new kind of practice, one in which patients — and there will be no more than 400 — will pay $25,000 a year for unfettered access to the doctors. Patients will be able to call and see and text the doctors whenever they want; they will be able to receive home visits, though those will cost extra (and so will lab work). They will be able to ask their doctors to travel to them should they suspect the onset of illness in June in Umbria. Various young Internet moguls have already expressed interest in becoming patients of the practice, which will start next month, Dr. Goldberg said.On a superficial level, it looks like these doctors are bringing Elysium to the United States -- the (super) rich will have have healthy, painless lives exceeding those of the masses, while anyone not predisposed to spending his or her days rent-seeking in a Financial District tower will have to accept living just an ordinary life.
The irony is, of course, that Americans (Manhattan billionaires, included) already live shorter lives than many poorer people in the world: including those wretched non-billionaires languishing in squalid places like Greece, Southern Italy and Costa Rica.
It's tough not to laugh at the naive thinking of these individuals: cancer doesn't discriminate between the banker and the pauper, nor does the heart attack or the stroke. Instead, these new patients of Doctors Yadegar and Goldberg will just be purchasing the illusion of longevity and good health.
Before leaving you at liberty to read the article in full, though, let's also put these practices into the bigger context of American social policy: almost 100 million Americans are un- or underinsured in this country, meaning they risk death for lack of access to basic medical care. All the while, the titans of Wall Street and the #FixTheDebt crowd tell us Medicare must be cut, Obamacare is too expensive and folks just need to figure out their medical care by trading chickens. We are literally a society that is unwilling to ask our billionaires to pay just a little bit more money so everyone can have a a basic level of social protection; no other rich country on Earth has such a perverted social contract. Free-at-point-of-use health care for everyone is most certainly achievable, but this billionaire class would need to pay a tiny bit more.
Whatever, though, who cares if we have the rich world's highest infant mortality rate? Some asshole is afraid of loud noises in the dark and needs his or her toe held by a doctor:
In recent years, some of Dr. Goldberg’s patients have made unusual requests that he has obliged. In one instance, when a patient didn’t want to be seen having a colonoscopy, Dr. Goldberg closed his office for four hours to grant her more privacy. Another requested allergy shots at home and another his accompaniment to a stressful M.R.I. where Dr. Goldberg held the patient’s toe to supply comfort.Paging Dr. DeBlasio, expert in socio-economic inequality...STAT.
9:04 AM PT: Kossack 'fugwb' in the comments brings up an important point. Total health spending in the UK is about $3,500/person. The $25,000 spent on these 'life-extension' doctors could finance the care for over five patients in your average European, Canadian, Australian single-payer system.