“Heaven forbid that the wealthy have to share a hospital room or eat the same food with the ‘rabble’,” writes commentor Eugene Gorrin in response to a NYT article about hospitals for the wealthy. “Just curious—will the tuxedo clad butler hand the patient the urinal or pan as needed?”In case you missed it, the article by Nina Bernstein details the rise of “amenities units” to attract wealthy patients.
For a princely $2,400 per night, patients recuperating in Greenberg 14 South, the prestigious wing in New York-Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell, are treated to top-of-the-line treatment that could rival the Four Seasons Hotel. There are jaw-dropping views of the East River and gelato on demand—though doctors insist the patients are there for the care, not the pampering.
It’s not surprising that this article infuriated people.
Employers have scaled back health benefits throughout the recession and 50 million Americans are going without coverage entirely, due to delays in implementing health care reform.
But given some hospitals’ reputation for mistreating their patients, it’s not hard to comprehend why the other half would pay top dollar to be treated like royalty.
In the face of such issues, the phrase “you get what you pay for” rings all too true—at least until the funeral bell tolls. A doctor trained at Mount Sinai and who commented on Bernstein’s article put it best:
“It was always frightening but necessary to see how disease reduced the poor and wealthy to the same basic ingredients: bones, blood and fear. Disease is a great equaliser. High thread count doesn’t stop cancer. Surrounding yourself with luxury while the ‘great unwashed’ share rooms and crummy food is a thin protection from reality.”
Are luxury hospitals a disgrace to health care or a boon for patients who can afford it? Sound off in the comments.