Sunday, September 28, 2008

On Genetic Testing, and Health Insurance Pirates (repost)

First off this is awesome :

Second....check out this posting at slashdot about a bill to prohibit genetic discrimination. Good point in and of itself, but the larger question about it is interesting. Basically, the point is that if health insurance companies have access to your genetic information, they will be able to pinpoint propensities towards diseases and either target you with higher premiums, or simply refuse coverage altogether. That's what the bill seeks to outlaw.

However, it's more complicated than that - some argue that genetic testing in itself will drive health insurance out of business, that it is an argument in favor of a national system. If the health insurer can't use the genetic testing information... that doesn't stop the consumer from doing so. In other words, the consumer could get his information, pinpoint what diseases he or she might be genetically predisposed towards, and then insure heavily for that - but the insurance company wouldn't see this coming so they would lose money hand over fist on such people.

Indeed, the argument is that insurance companies depend on the uncertainty that is threatened by genetic testing. Insurance is for uncertainty. There will always be uncertainty, but how much of it is potentially removed by something like genetic testing??

In all, genetic testing is a good thing. Yes? Earlier and earlier diagnoses mean better (and cheaper) prognoses and treatments, higher quality of life, etc etc. Lower costs and better health are good for everyone.

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