Alphabet is spending billions to become a force in health care

Rich countries pour heart-stopping amounts of money into health care. Advanced economies typically spend about 10% of gdp on keeping their citizens in good nick, a share that is rising as populations age. America’s labyrinthine health-industrial complex consumes 17% of gdp, equivalent to $3.6trn a year. The American system’s heft and inertia, perpetuated by the drugmakers, pharmacies, insurers, hospitals and others that benefit from it, have long protected it from disruption. Its size and stodginess also explains why it is being covetously eyed by big tech. Few other industries offer a potential market large enough to move the needle for the trillion-dollar technology titans.

In 2021

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