The Death Calculus March 25, 2012Posted by bobv451 in death, gummint, ideas, writing.
Pay no attention to gummint projections. Check what is being done by people with money on the line. I came across an interesting article that is just filled with stfnal ideas, yet was about the life insurance business.
Life insurance has always been a curious proposition to me. You buy the policy, betting you are going to die. The company takes the bet that you’re not going to die. In a crazy way, this seems backwards to me, but that’s the way it works (and is why Social Security is doomed–it is set up the way I’d do it–giving benefits until death rather than paying on death). Insurance companies make a lot of money if they don’t have to pay off, so their actuaries are state-of-the-art down with determining life expectancies. If we were immortal, the only death insurance would be for accidental death (sort of like insuring a 20 yr old). How much money could an insurance company make off a vampire? Over centuries?
But the older you get the less likely an insurance company ought to want to issue a life policy. Makes sense. They are more likely to pay out on an 80 yr old, hence lose money. But the business is changing to reflect increased life spans. And this isn’t chump change on the line. It is a $27 trillion business.
There are 53,000 Americans age 100 (or older!) compared with only 2,300 in 1950. That’s a 2200% increase vs only a doubling of the general population. This is why companies are willing to give a 78-yr-old woman a $20million life insurance policy (The Hartford, 2010–premium $1m a year). They figure she will live another 14.5 years because she has already outlived the “danger marker” of heart disease.
Even with stuff like coronary disease, it’s possible to get life insurance. In 1995 no company would touch you. Now they figure such things are repairable. In a way this is comforting to know that insurance companies are willing to bet you’re going to live even with serious health problems (so they can take your premium). These are better numbers than the gummint issues–those are for political consumption, not hard cash decisions but ones based on fairy gold and garnering votes.
How many ways will this inching toward immortality affect our society? Therein lies a lot of sf stories.