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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7716/genetic-discrimination-saves-lives/

Genetic Discrimination Saves Lives

January 30, 2008 by

Thanks to recent technological innovations, companies like 23andMe are now able to offer comprehensive genetic profiles that can reveal predispositions towards certain health problems, and allow patients to take proactive measures to prevent them. Unfortunately, this potentially lifesaving diagnosis will not be available to most individuals because of so-called “genetic privacy” laws, such as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, passed by the House last year.

One common argument used to justify such laws is that genetic profiling will lead to a “second class” of people who cannot obtain insurance or employment.



Nitroadict January 31, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Caution is prudent, yes, but such nanny state paranoia will indeed continue to heed progress. Being born to a mother who has rheumatoid arthritis (and a more than likely predisposition to related problems sometime in the future), I would be more than grateful to be able to better the outcome of my later years.

It would be ironic if any Statist’s were to bring in a lack of personal responsibility for one’s health as a possible objection to genetic profiles, assuming they’re oblivious to the irony itself!

InteractMD May 2, 2008 at 2:10 am

This is great, and articulates the inherent fallacy of a genetic nondiscrimination law. I tend to see the problem from the perspective of “singling out” genetic risk factors for non-discrimination, while leaving all other risk factors as “fair game.” Why should genetics get special treatment by the law?
The problem with going against genetic non-discrimination is that some patients are so paranoid, they will not have genetic testing at all, with possible deleterious consequences. I can’t say I blame them.
Companies that don’t bill Medicare, such as 23andme, don’t even have to observe HIPAA, so there’s no government-mandated privacy standards in place there.
I think health information privacy is a good goal, so you have here an ethical dilemma: how do you respect individual privacy and insurance company discriminatory testing? The balance of these two issues is why we haven’t gotten a law yet. Thanks for the comment on interactmd.com, by the way.

Owen May 2, 2008 at 2:47 am

“If the government completely outlawed discrimination based on all risk factors…As the young and healthy jump ship, insurance companies would have to increase rates, accelerating the trend. Without further government interference, the health insurance business would disappear completely, shortly after millionaires on their deathbeds became the only people able to afford policies.”

Sorry but this is the situation in Netherlands.

Therefore you are wrong.

Amy April 11, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Insurance companies offering incentives for you allowing them to pay for your preventive medicine – seriously? What country do you live in? Certainly not the US. And furthermore, as one of the wealthiest countries in the world we sure are a greedy bunch. My family is filled with people who have a shared genetic disease. Over 3/4 of us have been discriminated against and not been able to pay for coverage. But I guess that’s just the American way – Look out for yourself and don’t look back at those who are left behind so you don’t have to feel guilty…

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