Concierge Medicine

Article-2085262-0F5FA75800000578-524_306x423The local news was all abuzz this week, because Beyonce's and Jay Z's private security prevented parents from seeing their newborns in the NIC unit. They had so much hate directed at them that Beyonce checked out early. 

Amanda Marcotte isn't that sympathetic towards the new, unfamous parents.

This incident brought up the topic of concierge medicine – the practice of giving gold plated medical services to those that can pay. Check out Beyonce's birth room. More here



17 thoughts on “Concierge Medicine

  1. I don’t know what Beyonce and Jay Z were worried about. You just write the name on the baby with a Sharpie right away and then nobody can steal it.

  2. Wow, our baby was born at Lenox Hill, and I would have been really pissed if there had been security guards telling us we couldn’t see our baby.
    Amanda Marcotte is an incredible moron, by the way, standing up for the privileges of celebrities. If it’s any consolation to her, I don’t really know who Beyonce or Jay-Z is, although I have heard the names. Now am I entitled to basic parental rights?

  3. I think this gets back to the right to sell to the highest bidder vs. common good conversation we had re: pricey real estate. Like, if someone wants to pay something outrageous for something, why shouldn’t they? Hopefully we live in a society where we decide that certain things (like the keeping vibrant urban centers, or allowing people access to a hospital) are worth protecting, because not all goods and services happen in a vacuum. In other words, although Beyonce can pay millions and millions of dollars, her actions are harming others (i.e. parents of other children), and the hospital should hopefully have more than its bottom line in consideration here (like, the desire to everyone).
    Moreover, this seems to be the origins of creeping corruption culture. Like, ideally, anyone who can afford the price should get the same level of (high) care, and the option of paying more and getting better service should not be an option. (Like, yeah, we say a kidney transplant is x amount, but you have to pay x + n amount for us to remember to take the surgical sponge out.) Not that I love slippery slope arguments, but it seems like this is kind of an actual example. If Beyonce is getting above average care and they’re not bringing in more staff, then people who paid for service are getting subpar care (harried, fewer doctors and nurses), or even just the facility’s services are being unfairly focused. Maybe someone wealthy, but not Beyonce wealthy, might think, well, if I slip in an extra $20,000 to the hospital, will my wife get checked on more often, and so forth, until we end up with a bribery economy. (Which, now that I think about this, it basically is. Beyonce is bribing a hospital to give her a certain treatment it doesn’t normally do.)

  4. “In other words, although Beyonce can pay millions and millions of dollars, her actions are harming others (i.e. parents of other children), and the hospital should hopefully have more than its bottom line in consideration here (like, the desire to everyone).”
    Except that a better bottom line helps the hospital provide better care to the 99.99% of non-celebrity patients.
    Personally, I suspect that this couple got totally ripped off. Really, when you’re giving birth, the last thing you’re thinking about is whether there’s a mini-fridge. Of course, given the peculiarities of glitzy celebrity culture, they might not mind being ripped off.
    There’s a Russian joke from the 90s that goes like this (more or less). Two New Russians realize that they have the same designer tie. “I got it for $500,” says the first New Russian. “You idiot,” says the other. “I paid $1,000 around the corner.”

  5. “Of course, given the peculiarities of glitzy celebrity culture, they might not mind being ripped off. ”
    They don’t — that’s one of the privileges of having too much money (though the folks who take it too far — Annie Liebowitz, for example or Nicholas Cage — end up in trouble.
    I think I got the catalog that the crib (the real crib as opposed to “crib”) is in. I remember wondering who in the world would buy a 20K crib, and no I know. But it’s pretty much the same as buying a 10
    In one of the comment threads in Laura’s links, someone comments that there are “concierge” floors at major urban center hospitals, and mentions one in Houston. I am sympathetic to a celebrity’s right to get appropriate medical care in a private setting. A floor seems the way to go, with private access and vetted patients so that everyone is signing on to the same rules about privacy.
    The violations of Farah Fawcett’s privacy when she had cancer were horrendous (and, not something one faces when one isn’t a celebrity, though we do have our own burdens to bear).
    The spokesperson’s words at Lennox suggested to me that they’re more interested in playing the game of providing high cost/high end services than subsidizing the other “99%.”

  6. “I am sympathetic to a celebrity’s right to get appropriate medical care in a private setting. A floor seems the way to go, with private access and vetted patients so that everyone is signing on to the same rules about privacy.”
    Yeah, now that there are cameras on everything, somebody would be selling photographs of Beyonce fully dilated. (Now that’s going to attract some creepy web viewers. Not sure how else to phrase it, though.) We ordinary people don’t get much privacy in hospital settings, but at least nobody’s trying to get and sell photos of our most intimate moments.

  7. What bothers me about this story is not that Beyonce gets a fancy room. You get what you pay for. When my wife had a baby, we didn’t bother getting a private room, though we could have afforded it. I mean, you’re only there for one day. But then my wife was annoyed because the other woman in the room had named her baby Chelsea, and naming your baby after the president’s daughter struck her as displaying a total lack of gravitas. So maybe the private room would have been worth it.
    What bothers me is the entourage, which is just a form of conspicuous consumption, and which in this case appears to have impinged on others. That’s why it’s good to live in a co-op, so that trashy celebrities can’t get into your building.

  8. I wonder why Beyonce didn’t consider a home birth. Surely she could have paid for the best doctors to be at her side, and a room could have been prepared to her specifications. And then she wouldn’t have inconvenienced anyone else.
    The comment about the woman naming her daughter Chelsea seems unnecessary. Is it supposed to be a joke?
    I gave birth to my daughter at Methodist in Brooklyn in a non-private room. Not only did the woman in the next bed steal the nurse every time I called for one (the stupid nurses didn’t know *who* in our room was calling for a nurse; meanwhile, I was dealing with some postpartum hemorrhaging, hello), but I am pretty sure she also stole my phone credit card number.

  9. B.I.,
    Now that I think of it, there’s a rather common way to pay for a better labor and delivery experience, namely to hire a doula to come help you with delivery.
    I hired a doula for my second delivery. With a short labor, I wound up paying her nearly the equivalent of lawyer wages per hour, but it definitely improved the situation, particularly since they didn’t manage to get me any pain relief till it was almost over.
    Unfortunately, in many cases, without a doula or midwife, laboring women in the US spend long stretches of time with no in-person expert attention. That’s OK if they’re well-drugged up from the get-go, but (and this should be better publicized), anybody who is attempting unmedicated childbirth should have lots of experienced support. It’s not a nice experience to be dealing with unmedicated contractions with only the help afforded by a scared husband and machines that go BEEP.

  10. Wendy,
    I think labor and delivery nurses tend to be really good (the Navy SEALS of their profession), but especially with my first delivery (at Sibley in DC) there was a noticeable drop-off in nurse quality once we left labor and delivery, not unlike what you describe. Suddenly, I couldn’t understand my nurse’s English and food and painkillers didn’t appear at appropriate intervals and it was hard to get a nurse when needed. It was like stepping from the 1st world into the 3rd. I’m not surprised that Beyonce didn’t want that. (My second delivery was at Georgetown in DC, I had a doula, and thanks to it being a teaching hospital, there were staff coming in all the time after delivery.)

  11. Wendy: I don’t know what you mean by “unnecessary” or a “joke.” What would a “necessary” blog comment look like? It’s just an amusing story illustrative of (i) our family’s aesthetic values and (ii) my wife’s mood immediately after giving birth.

  12. I know of two daughters named Reagan, so people’s mileage obviously varies.
    They were keeping other parents away from babies in neonatal intensive care?? What the fucking fuckety fuck? If they got a bunch of hate for doing that, the only thing I can say is, “Good.” For it is well and truly earned.
    Actually, I can think of something else to say: “More please.”

  13. Agree with Doug.
    The hospital should have turned down the offer. They are supposed to care for all people. When the hospital rented out the wing, they were allowing this couple to deny medical service to couples in labor.
    Think about that.

  14. I think Marcotte must never have had a baby in the NICU. The entire experience, from start to finish, is traumatic. You have to get permission to see your baby. You have to get permission to hold your baby. You have no idea when your baby will come home, if your baby will come home, or if your baby will continue to improve or suffer the sort of sudden, unpredictable setback that typifies the place. It is hard enough to realize that you have no control of any kind when it’s the doctors and nurses who are saving your baby that make the rules.
    To have the private security of a famous musician setting up another barrier between you and your baby? ARE YOU F-ING KIDDING ME?
    Amanda Marcotte has made observations of various qualities over the years, but this one stands out as almost uniquely clueless.

  15. Oh, and just to take my heart rate back down, I will stir the pot by confessing that I more than half believe that they set up that suite to make it more convincing that Beyonce carried that baby herself. I look at photos of her pregnancy and cannot believe that she was nine months pregnant. I know, I know, people carry differently. But look at Jennifer Garner, not to mention Jessica Simpson, and then look at those last photos of Beyonce, and tell me you don’t have doubts. 😉

  16. I don’t think that this particular instance is the worst injustice, but it’s indicative of the mentality that money can buy you anything, rules (i.e., a mission statement that a hospital ought to provide medical care for everyone) be damned. I am sympathetic to Beyonce’s desire for a private experience, but, as mentioned, there were other places more equipped to provide that. She basically paid to remodel and shut down a wing of a hospital, overlooking luxury birth suites elsewhere, or a home birth (which might have been the most comfortable and best option for her).
    I’m not terribly sympathetic to the argument that she’s subsidizing everyone else: perhaps that’s true, but that argument can be made to justify anything. I could charge wealthy oil barons millions of dollars to torture orphans in India (a chunk of that would be used to get the government to look the other way), and then use the proceeds to set up schools, claiming that the torture of 1 child allowed for 500 more to go to school. (If you can’t tell, I’m not a consequentialist). I’d rather live in a society where everyone got a basic level of care, and those who wanted to pay more could do so, but not at the expense of everyone else, not one where money can buy whatever you want.

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