Well-heeled Californians are offering doctors tens of thousands of dollars for a coronavirus vaccine — and it’s still not enough to get them on the list.
Other tactics from the West Coast wealthy and famous include having their personal assistants pester physicians daily and offering up five-figure donations to hospitals, The Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
“We get hundreds of calls every single day,” said Dr. Ehsan Ali, who runs Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor and whose clients include Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
“This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients.”
Dr. Jeff Toll, who runs a private concierge practice in Los Angeles — that charges up to $25,000 a year for top-notch care — said that “people are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars.”
Toll, who also has admitting privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, recalled how one patient asked him “If I donate $25,000 to Cedars, would that help me get in line?’”
Another doctor with many Hollywood clients told the Times that celebs and execs are having “their people calling me literally every day.”
“They don’t want to wait. They want to know how they can get it more quickly,” the doctor said.
The Golden State has strict rules for who should get the shot first: healthcare workers and nursing home residents, and then essential workers and those with chronic health conditions before everyone else.
But concierge doctors are already gearing up to help their powerful patients get vaccinated as soon as possible, the Times reported.
They’re compiling long patient files with medical histories and potential COVID-19 risks and buying pricey, ultra-low temperature freezers required to keep the vax at minus 94 degrees, the report said.
“As soon as we heard about the vaccine coming to market, we started looking for freezers,” said Andrew Olanow, co-founder of Sollis Health, a concierge practice with clinics in New York, the Hamptons and Beverly Hills.
The COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, California.Getty Images
The well-connected could take advantage of the vague guidelines and argue that an underlying condition or a top position at an essential company should push them to the front of the list, warned Glenn Ellis, a bioethicist and a visiting scholar at Tuskegee University.
“With enough money and influence, you can make a convincing argument about anything,” Ellis told the Times.
But Gov. Gavin Newsom — who made his own gaffe by dining maskless and indoors at the tony French Laundry restaurant — has warned that California will be “very aggressive” in making the rich and powerful “are not crowding out those that are most deserving of the vaccines.”
“Those that think they can get ahead of the line and those that think because they have resources or they have relationships that will allow them to do it … we also will be monitoring that very, very closely,” Newsom said.