The case for a health care futures market

Good morning.

Do we need a futures market for health care? That’s the argument Greg Simon and Jeff Feldman make in the new issue of Fortune magazine. Financial futures, created in the 1970s, helped bring stability during a time of wild inflation and skyrocketing interest rates. Oil futures, created in the 1980s, did the same for an era of soaring energy prices. So why not try it to help manage health care costs?

“To put the problem in perspective,” Simon and Feldman write, “the United States spends roughly $350 billion a year on oil. The value of structured financial products to hedge or speculate on the price of oil, based on that expenditure, totals hundreds of billions of dollars. We spend a similar amount annually just on diabetes care, but there are no financial products to provide predictable and stable prices for vital components of diabetes treatment, such as insulin.”

It’s a thought-provoking proposal—and the first of a new magazine feature called The Big Idea. February is the 90th anniversary of our magazine, and to mark the occasion, editor-in-chief Clifton Leaf has spearheaded what he calls “the most ambitious redesign in our history.” It starts with a stunning cover, illustrated by Craig & Karl, whose work has been exhibited at museums in Athens, New York, Paris and Shanghai. The cover is, in Leaf’s words, “both a look back to Fortune’s many decades of bold cover design and a leap forward.” You can read The Big Idea here, and get an early peak at the cover below.

And speaking of bold design, we are putting the final touches on our Fortune Brainstorm Design conference, being held in Singapore on March 25 and 26. The event is dedicated to executives using design principals to rethink their businesses and please their customers. Among those attending are top design executives from PepsiCo, Walmart, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Aston Martin, Twitter, 3M, Salesforce, IKEA, Royal Phillips, Waymo, General Mills, and more. I’ll be there, too, and if you are interested in joining, shoot me a note at, or go here.

More news below.

Alan Murray