[ExI] Why Cities Keep Growing, Corporations and People Always Die, and Life Gets Faster

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sat Jun 11 17:52:44 UTC 2011

On Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 08:00:03AM -0700, Damien Sullivan wrote:

> Germanys get to choose among 200 "sickness funds", I don't think any 
> Americans have a tenth of that level of choice in health insurer.

In practice the choice isn't that great, and there's considerable
administratory overhead eating up the dues. Plus, the dottores are stuck with
mostly doing paperwork instead of treating patients, unless you're 
a private patient.

Worse, the diverse approaches in diverse countries are all minor variation on
a rather dismal theme


In addition to the socially obnoxious or technologically hazardous aspects of
life extension-enabling technologies, there is also the issue of paying for
the enormous cost of their safe and responsible development. 1/2MT, coupled
with irresponsible global fiscal policy, has put an enormous and inescapable
strain on the economies of the developed world for the foreseeable future.
Without doubt, one of the best arguments for radical life extension is the
high cost of caring for senescent individuals.

Figure21: Health care costs over the course of human life span are clustered
near the end of life, with 2/3rds of all health care dollars being expended
in the last two decades of life.

Figure 21 shows how aging rapidly escalates the cost of healthcare near the
end of life. As a result of mean life span extension due to 1/2MT, the cost
of caring for an increasingly elderly, nonproductive, and ultimately moribund
population will rapidly become astronomical, if not altogether unsupportable.
The hard reality of this can be seen in Figure 22, which shows the cost of
health care for Americans as function of time and a percentage of the Gross
Domestic Product (GDP). Thus, the irony is that people who take good care of
their health and ‘stay healthy’ actually incur greater health care costs than
do those who fail to do so – extension of life span using 1/2MT carries a
high cost, indeed.125

Figure 22: US healthcare costs projected to 2015 as a percentage of the GDP.

Currently, health care consumes ~16% of the GDP, and within 5 years
healthcare costs will be in the range of 22% of the GDP ,126 an amount that
is not considered sustainable by economists of any ideological or political
stripe. Nor is it conceivable that increases in productivity due to
technological advance will serve to bail us out of this fix, or otherwise
even partially offset these staggering costs. It is already too late to
rescue the individuals who will be generating these expenses (and in fact are
generating them now) from senescence. A practical consequence of this will be
that money to pay for the research and development of the enabling
technologies to slow, prevent, or reverse age associated morbidity will also
likely be delayed or altogether absent. These truly unprecedented and
frightening costs associated with modest life span extension as a result of
1/2MT will undoubtedly have serious societal implications, as well.127 While
it is impossible to predict the future in this regard, it is quite
conceivable that there will be a backlash against biomedicine as a result of
the hard decisions that will be required, and the shortages both in medical
care, and in basic resources that are likely to result.

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