TWO TRENDS are on the rise, and one is about to make the other worse.
The first is epitomized in a July 2017 report in The Economist on the United States’s urban-rural divide, which noted that “deaths of despair” — suicide, heart disease, and drug overdoses — are increasing in the southeastern corner of West Virginia. Life expectancy for men is now 16.5 years lower than in neighboring Arlington. Christian H. Cooper’s moving essay in Nautilus entitled “Why Poverty Is Like a Disease,” Karin Goodwin’s journalism in the Guardian, and James Bloodworth’s op-ed in New Scientist have piled on additional accounts of how chronic stress and loss of a sense of control can be our undoing.
Meanwhile, in the second trend, biotech’s rise, ever more powerful tools are being developed for in vitro fertilization, and for anti-aging and cancer technologies. Some of the latter run to six figures, which means some insurance companies may not cover them.
As economist Thomas Piketty noted in 2014, and so many have since Trump’s election, the United States is embroiled in an...