The Unstoppable Burgeoning Healthcare Divide

The wealthy have the propensity to live longer and heather lives than those less affluent. This is due to a number of reasons including access to healthier foods and superior medical care. Correlated to wealth inequality, there is healthcare inequality. Moreover, the wealth gap is increasing, but it may not compare to the healthcare divide.

Consider the changing dynamics of medical tourism. A large part of medical tourism continues to be accessing treatments at lower costs. For the wealthy, however, medical tourism has become a more important if not core means of accessing state-of-the-art treatments. For example, there are certain medical facilities in particular countries that are providing the latest advances in stem cell therapies (Example: The Isar Clinic in Munich, Germany). To receive these therapies and other cutting-edge treatments requires knowing about them, being able to access them, and being able to afford them as they are not covered by traditional health insurance.

The rich and super-rich are have always been very willing to commit resources to living longer, healthier lives. Today, the prospects for doing so are greater than ever before. According to Daniel Carlin, M.D., founder and CEO of WorldClinic, one of the foremost concierge healthcare firms and a pioneer in comprehensive longevity planning, “With advances in biomarkers and related technologies, we can increasingly determine the likelihood of becoming seriously ill, and we are developing treatments to deal with these illnesses more effectively than ever before. The complication, save for the wealthiest among us, is being able to afford the care. That’s why a growing number of affluent families are taking a prospective approach by creating healthcare contingency plans and integrating these plans with their financial plans. Because of the associated expenses, we will see a growing healthcare gap between the very rich and everyone else.”

“In the detailed evaluations of the financial impact on affluent families of cutting-edge medical care, including high-quality rehabilitation costs, there is little question that only the richest or the most well prepared among them can afford the best,” says Rick Flynn, managing partner of FFO Business Management & Family Office, and author ofThe High-Functioning Single-Family Office. “For the wealthy, but not so wealthy that they can just write checks on demand, there are select wealth management strategies that can be used to enable them to deal with the financial toll of a severe illness. But it’s clear that the costs are only going to continue to rise.”

For the vast majority of people, the economics of receiving some of the most advanced medical care is unworkable. Although effective treatments not covered by heath insurance will, in time, filter down to the general population, many new advances will, in the short term (10 years) continue to be available only to the rich and those who plan for them. This dynamic will ultimately contribute to an ever-enlarging healthcare divide between those who planned and can afford it, and those who did not. Moreover, there will be a greater and growing divide between the wealthy and everyone else.