Monday, March 23, 2020

You're All In This Together But Don't Get It Twisted, We Come First!

npr |  While average Americans fret on social media about empty toilet paper aisles, author Nelson Schwartz says the wealthy are installing hospital-grade filtration systems and building safe rooms. 

The coronavirus has exposed the vast inequalities in our health care system: Rich Americans from movie stars to Instagram influencers are getting access to COVID-19 tests before many sick people showing relevant symptoms.

In "The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business," Schwartz writes about how private services like concierge doctors disincentivize investments in health care and other public services.

Wealthy people can pay concierge doctors an annual fee for around the clock care. Now, he says, in the era of coronavirus, one concierge doctor who stocked up on virus swabs is organizing drive-through testing in Silicon Valley for his clients only.

Another medical concierge firm is helping people with underlying conditions like respiratory distress get oxygen concentrators, he says. The firm is also writing 90-day prescriptions and arranging nebulizers for taking drugs in case the supply chain is disrupted.

“Concierge docs are doing what they can to help their patients, even if that means jumping the line,” he says. “In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, not all patients are created equal.”

This is how health care works in this country right now, but Schwartz says it’s frightening because “we're all in it together.” Testing only a small number of people puts everyone at risk, he says.
People showing COVID-19 symptoms need to receive tests over the “worried well,” he says.