Since Alcor introduced Associate Membership in 2012 the results have been quite encouraging. There a lot of people who support our mission but are not able, or ready yet, to make cryonics arrangements themselves. For others, it is simply the first step towards making cryonics arrangements. Clearly, the threshold for becoming an Associate Member is substantially lower than the threshold for becoming a fully funded Alcor member. Is there anything we can do to further lower the threshold for making cryonics arrangements with Alcor?
Most people who have made cryonics arrangements did not come to this decision by reflecting on aging and death and then consulting the library or searching the internet for technological solutions. Most people were first introduced to cryonics when it was covered in the media (newspapers, radio, television, etc.) or through family, friends, or colleagues.
What has not happened to date is that cryonics arrangements are offered to (potential) employees as part of an employee benefit package.
Many employers continue to offer employees a basic or enhanced benefits package as part of compensation. In fact, as times change, the kinds of benefits that organizations offer have evolved as well. Currently we are seeing an increased emphasis on preventive care, more flexibility for parents, and self-directed retirement investments. To cater to the increasing number of women entering the labor market, and the increased preference to have children at a later age, some forward-looking companies are even offering to cryopreserve the eggs of their employees in order to facilitate this change.
Unfortunately, employee benefits are still largely driven by an attitude towards life that passively accepts aging and conforms to conventional, but outdated, notions of “death.” We are encouraged to save money for “retirement,” that point in life where our physiology starts to fall behind the needs of the labor market. We encourage people to provide for their families in case of “death.” It would be a major step forward if companies did not just offer the tools to remain healthy but also provided a choice to be cryopreserved in case a person is afflicted with a critical illness for which contemporary medicine does not have an answer.
It is well established that cryonics draws a lot of people of extraordinary intelligence and ability. Not surprisingly, many of these people run successful businesses and organizations. If the life extension community can come together and persuade these companies to offer cryonics as an electable employee benefit, the interest in cryonics will most likely increase, even among those who do not elect to benefit from these services. Not all companies may be in a position to offer such benefits for financial or public image reasons, but I suspect that a non-trivial number of Alcor members with companies should be able to do so. And as soon as some companies do, the threshold and administrative challenges for others will drop. We should at least expect this benefit to be offered at companies whose officials are public about their cryonics arrangements (like Alcor!)
Some companies already offer term or whole life insurance as a benefit and it should not be too hard to tweak this benefit to transform this into a funding mechanism for cryonics. Employers then will also pick up (or partially pay) the annual membership dues (and CMS payments) for all employees who choose cryonics as a company benefit. Transferability is an important consideration if cryonics is offered as an employee benefit so that departing employees can take their arrangements with them without having to start the life insurance or funding process all over again.
Offering cryonics arrangements as an employee benefit should be as common as offering health insurance. No matter how much emphasis a company puts on preventive care, protection against critical illness and catastrophic accidents needs to be a part of that package if the concept of a long and healthy life is to be embraced.
Originally published as a column (Quod incepimus conficiemus) in Cryonics magazine, January, 2015