The 21st Century will be the Healthcare Century. Human endeavor creates prosperity, and health is an engine that powers human endeavor. Prosperous societies, in turn, consume more healthcare in a procyclical fashion. The effect of healthcare consumption on lifespan also has a directly procyclical effect. The average age in America was 29 in the 1960 census, but will soon pass 40. Given that the majority of our lifetime healthcare consumption occurs after 40, the majority of developed nations’ populations could soon be high-volume users of healthcare. It is not inconceivable that healthcare might one day account for half of the economic activity, market capitalizations, and jobs around the globe — a scenario that far exceeds even the most aggressive growth forecasts.
This scenario might sound like an economic apocalypse. Indeed, many believe that we already have a healthcare problem. But let’s get this straight: healthcare is a solution. What we have is an illness problem, particularly the chronic illnesses associated with aging, and aging itself, which kills 150,000 people per day globally. To truly better our world, we will need to invent a new way of thinking about health, illness, and aging.