Sunday, March 8, 2015

ISO a business model for healthspan companies

As Aubrey de Grey the gadfly tirelessly preaches, research into treating disease receives far more funding than preventing disease.

Which got me to thinking. A comparable industry, cryopreservation, is able to support a viable company (Alcor). I believe the reason is that Alcor has a sustainable business model- folks pay for a policy, and in return their contract promises they'll be cryopreserved once they kick the bucket.

SENS is Aubrey's age prevention outfit. SENS relies mostly donations for funding. Their budget pales in comparison to comparable ventures to fight cancer, Alzheimer's etc. I'm persuaded by Aubrey's argument that this reality is not ideal- for a number of reasons, research into expanding the healthspan offers a better benefit/cost ratio than research into treating low frequency diseases.

I think a primary problem here is the lack of an investment-attracting business model. I also think there are several possible business models that could help solve this problem and accelerate research into healthspan-expanding medical advances. Which do you find most tenable? What others can you think of?

Candidate Business Models

Individual policies

There's no need to reinvent the wheel: use the same model we use for medical insurance. Sally pays her $30/month, and in return she is entitled to be among the first to purchase drugs or therapies that SENS (or a healthspan expanding competitor) develops.

Group policies

Companies are always trying to outcompete each other by offering cutting-edge benefits to their employees- dependent care, yoga, long-term care insurance, Taylor Swift concerts. There are Benefits managers out there who would pay into a group policy on behalf of employees to entitle them to be among the first to purchase healthspan expanding drugs and therapies. They could offer employees the opportunity to deduct from their paychecks to purchase the added entitlement of purchasing the developed drugs/therapies at a discount.

Heritable policies

This is a version of the individual policy that looks somewhat like a life insurance policy- a designated beneficiary when you die. You've been paying into the policy for a decade, and haven't derived much value yet- when you die, you bequeath the option to continue the policy to a child or loved one. The beneficiary is covered by the policy for a certain amount of time cost-free, based on how long you were paying into the policy.

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