Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can pay for you to avoid the headache of a waiting room. And that's a start.
Some wealthy households are choosing to forgo health insurance in favor of paying a monthly fee -- totaling up to $30,000 per year -- for concierge medicine, or the ability to have access to their physicians anywhere, anytime, Bloomberg News reports. Some families even have emergency rooms in their own homes, which can cost $1 million.
Though the number of concierge patients remains small, 64 percent of all doctors believe that concierge medicine has the best chance of financial success today, according to a survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. Concierge medicine first appeared in the mid-1990s, as some doctors wanted to spend more time with their patients and rich patients wanted to pay for better healthcare.
In addition to concierge medicine, the wealthy have a variety of plush options to choose from when it comes to their health care. Some hospitals are competing for wealthy clients by offering perks like butlers, fancy beds, beautiful views, and fine food. Some of New York-Presbyterian's luxury hospital rooms can cost patients $1,000 to $1,500 per day.
Wealthy families' access to all of these options likely only exacerbates the health care gap between the rich and the poor. A study in the U.K. found that managers live three years longer on average than workers with routine tasks. In addition, Harvard graduates live ten years longer on average then men living in inner-city Boston, according to a study from researchers at the university . Three in ten Harvard graduates lived to age 90, while the average American lives for 78 years, the study found.
Meanwhile, health care costs continue to rise as Americans' incomes when adjusted for inflation fall. Americans' health care spending in 2008 was triple what it was in 1990, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The average family spent $13,770 on health care in 2010, according to a separate Kaiser report: 28 percent of the annual median household income.