The best hospitals are now competing not only to have the best medical teams, but the best amenities:

The younger Mr. Frehse contrasted the unit’s mouth-watering menu with the “inedible food” his father faced when he was treated on the non-elite second floor. “Here he has mushroom risotto with heirloom tomatoes,” he said.

The hospital said in a statement: “NewYork-Presbyterian is dedicated to providing a single standard of high quality care to all of our patients.”

At Mount Sinai Medical Center, where the aesthetic of the Eleven West wing is antique mahogany rather than contemporary sleek, and the best room costs $1,600, William Duffy, the hospital’s director of hospitality, said his favorite entree was Colorado rack of lamb, adding, “We pride ourselves on getting anything the patient wants. If they have a craving for lobster tails and we don’t have them on the menu, we’ll go out and get them.”

The 19-room unit, which opened 18 years ago but received a recent face-lift, takes in $3.5 million a year, Mr. Duffy said, estimating that 30 percent of its clientele comes from abroad. If the emergency room is backed up, a regular patient may be upgraded, he added: “Bump ’em up to Business, as we say.”

The question of why this arms race of elite catering seems to have an obvious answer: the rich are richer and can afford it. But there have always been the super wealthy and yet . . . something has changed. Is it that we are staying longer in hospitals over all? Is it that the idea of “in home stay” with a visiting doctor isn’t feasible? Or are these ultra wealthy starting to discover that health care is about more than the most advanced body mechanic checking in on you once an hour. Are theses 1%ers groping towards the next big breakthrough in health care?

When every I watch old movies, there are two options for health care: either a kindly old doctor with a black bag who comes to the house or a traumatic, horrifying hostile hospital in which patients are treated like diseased cattle inside a THX-1138 style sterile environment. Is it really so unbelievable that where you receive your health care and what surrounds you during that treatment affects how you heal?