Imagine for a moment that you’re back in fourth grade.

Now imagine one of the coolest kids in the class is inviting just about all his classmates to what promises to be the blowout birthday party of the year. There will be games, balloons cake, ice cream and even a fire truck. Pretty awesome! There’s one little problem though: You’re not invited.

Something kinda similar happened last week. The brains on sticks at McKinsey issued a promising report about the future of healthcare profits. Their estimate is providers will start seeing historic profit margins by 2026. Not just profit margins, mind you, historic profit margins.

Woo-hoo, right? Not so fast.

Turns out your results may vary. Considerably. The biggest winners will include Medicare Advantage players, ambulatory surgical centers and specialty pharmacy services.

Among the laggards are – you guessed it – post-acute care facilities. No ride on the fire truck for you, my friend.

Now before you spend the rest of the day crying in bed about the unfairness of it all, take heart.

First of all, this is just one person’s report. Well, two actually. Regardless, predictions have a unique way of being redirected by unforeseen developments. So while the duo who cobbled this forecast together are undoubtedly a lot smarter than your average bears, they are nonetheless making more than a few guesses. And a lot can happen between now and 2026.

Then there’s this: What is absolutely not in doubt is that our nation is aging. While the oldest of the baby boomers now may be turning 78, they will begin to enter their ninth decade by 2026. That’s getting mighty close to the customer-base sweet spot for skilled care.

The ’80s may have been a great time for music, movies and television shows. But turning 80 can take quite a toll on the human body. Put another way: Most operators are going to have a lot more customers in three years

So maybe you won’t get to ride in the fire truck. But at least you won’t be riding in a hearse, either.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.