DNA - Crack the Code

Insurance and Genetic Testing in the United States

DNA – Crack the Code by Nyla

Protecting Our Personal Information.

In 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the nearly unanimously approved Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). This law is meant to prevent discrimination in employment and health insurance based on genetic information. The law effectively prevents group health plans and employers from requesting that individuals undergo genetic tests, thereby protecting what many view as basic human rights: healthcare and equal employment opportunity. While the GINA of 2008 prevents the use of genetic information with health insurance, it does not prevent the use of genetic testing in other arenas, such as life insurance.

Life Insurance: A Product in a Competitive Market.

With life insurance, an insurer agrees to pay a designated amount of money in response to the death of the policy holder. In return, the policy holder must pay a premium in regular intervals throughout the course of the policy. Accordingly, the insurance company charges a premium based upon a detailed underwriting and actuarial process.

Mortality rates for different age groups are used in determining an individual’s premium. For instance, it is predicted that 0.35 in 1000 non-smoking 25 years old males will die in the first year of policy coverage. This allows the insurance company to charge premiums to a group of individuals given an expected number of deaths and payouts.

Individual life insurance premiums are determined in an underwriting process. During this process, age, health, and tobacco use are the major factors that play into premium determination. However, more detailed questions about the health and lifestyle of the client are often asked to make a better judgement what type of premium would be required for that person. For older applicants, paramedical professionals are sent to perform more detailed tests including blood and urine tests.

What are they looking for in the blood test? Right now, the blood test screens for the presence of antigens to the HIV  virus, hepatitis, evidence for liver or kidney disorders, and certain types of autoimmune diseases. These are all increased risk factors for mortality. A positive test for one or more of these indicators may result in higher premiums or denial of coverage.

Enter genetic testing.

The blood test performed by the paramedic is all that would be required for a complete genome scan. This type of test can detect predispositions to over 100 complex genetic diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Heart Disease, and many different types of cancers. What would happen if insurance companies used genetic information in the underwriting process?

Genetic information will add an array of new dimensions to the current underwriting process as it allows insurers to account for a plethora of diseases beyond a typical life insurance exam. Moreover, a genetic test can show increased risk, normal risk or decreased risk for a particular disease. It is possible that this information may improve the likelihood of coverage and/or lower premiums for individuals.

The use of genetic information may be a disgusting thought in some peoples’ minds, but we must consider what happens if we ban the use of genetic information in life insurance. An individual may always get himself tested. What if a 50 year old male learns that he has an increased risk for three different late onset genetic disorders and decides to take out a large policy anticipating this decline. This “moral hazard” will cause the insurance company to charge a lower premium than what is actuarially fair, and it will begin to lose money for every individual that engages in this behavior. Eventually, it will prevent the proper functionality of the life insurance company, and it will disadvantage everyone who seeks to take out a life insurance policy.

To Know or Not to Know? That is the Question.

There are two issues at play with life insurance and genetic testing: protection of personal data, and avoiding a situation where there is asymmetry of information. If the consumer knows of a predisposition and the insurer does not, the consumer has the power to take out a policy at an actuarial loss to the insurer. However, some may believe that the insurer should not ever know about the consumer’s genetic information because that is both private and immutable material. What is the optimal solution here?

One solution would be to ban genetic testing altogether. We might decide not to let the consumer or the insurer employ this technology. I think this would be terrible. We would be taking several steps backwards if we decided to ban genetic testing.

Another solution is for knowledge to be spread all around. Life insurers should be allowed to use genetic information as long as the consumer is made aware of the results. This way, there is no asymmetry of information. Let’s not forget that genetic testing could even reveal a genetic protection against certain diseases (lower than average risk).

I do not believe that applying genetic testing towards life insurance is a violation of privacy or human rights. Life insurance is not a societal right. It is a product that consumers have the option of buying. If a consumer does not want to have their genes tested, then perhaps they should reconsider taking out a life insurance policy.

Share/Save

20 thoughts on “Insurance and Genetic Testing in the United States

  1. excellent publish, very informative. I wonder why the
    opposite specialists of this sector do not notice this.
    You must continue your writing. I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  2. Hi, Neat post. There is an issue together with your site
    in web explorer, may check this? IE still is the market chief and a large element of folks will miss your magnificent writing
    because of this problem.

  3. Hello, i resad your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you gett a llot of spam responses?
    If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything youu ccan advise?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any
    help is very much appreciated.

  4. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much
    more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Superb work!

  5. Thanks for another fantastic article. Where else may
    anyone get that kind of information in such an ideal approach of writing?
    I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on
    the look for such info.

  6. I do not know if it’s just me or if everybody else encountering issues with your site.
    It looks like some of the text on your posts are running off the screen.
    Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me
    know if this is happening to them as well? This may be a problem with my browser
    because I’ve had this happen before. Many thanks

  7. Thanks for the concepts you have discussed here.
    Moreover, I believe there are a few factors which keep
    your car insurance premium lower. One is, to bear in mind
    buying autos that are in the good directory of car insurance firms.

    Cars which might be expensive tend to be at risk of being snatched.
    Aside from that insurance coverage is also using the value of your car or truck,
    so the higher priced it is, then the higher the particular premium you spend.

    I have realized that car insurance organizations know the vehicles which
    are vulnerable to accidents as well as other risks. Additionally, these
    people know what kind of cars are given to higher risk as well
    as higher risk they’ve the higher the actual premium charge.
    Understanding the simple basics associated with car insurance will
    help you choose the right kind of insurance policy that
    could take care of your preferences in case you become involved
    in any accident. Thank you sharing the ideas with your blog.

    Thanks a lot for your post. I’d prefer to comment that the cost
    of car insurance varies from one insurance policy to
    another, due to the fact there are so many different facets which give rise to
    the overall cost. For example, the brand name of the automobile will
    have a massive bearing on the charge. A reliable outdated family motor
    vehicle will have a more economical premium compared to a flashy fancy car.

    Thanks for the several tips provided on this
    web site. I have observed that many insurance
    companies offer clients generous discount rates if
    they favor to insure several cars with them.
    A significant variety of households own several cars or trucks
    these days, specially those with mature teenage young children still residing at home, and the savings for policies might soon begin. So it makes sense to
    look for a good deal.
    One thing I want to say is that car insurance canceling is a terrifying experience and if you
    are doing the appropriate things as being a driver you’ll not get one.

    Some people do are sent the notice that they are officially dumped by their insurance
    company they then have to scramble to get further insurance following a cancellation. Low-priced auto insurance rates
    are often hard to get after the cancellation. Knowing the main reasons for auto insurance cancellation can help car owners prevent burning off one of the most crucial privileges
    obtainable. Thanks for the concepts shared via your blog.

  8. My partner and I stumbled over here different website and thought I may as well check things
    out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to exploring your
    web page again.

  9. Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?

    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve
    worked hard on. Any suggestions?

  10. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all people you
    really recognize what you are speaking about!
    Bookmarked. Please also talk over with my website =).
    We will have a link exchange contract between us

  11. I usually do not comment, but after reading a few of
    the remarks on this page Insurance and Genetic Testing in the United States | The Chromosome Chronicles.
    I actually do have a couple of questions for you if it’s okay.
    Is it only me or does it look like a few of the comments appear like they are left by
    brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are posting at additional places,
    I would like to keep up with you. Would you make a list of every
    one of all your social community sites like your Facebook page, twitter
    feed, or linkedin profile?

  12. Can I simply say what a comfort to discover someone who actually knows what they’re talking about online.
    You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and
    make it important. More and more people should read this
    and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you aren’t more popular because you definitely
    possess the gift.

  13. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a
    friend who had been conducting a little homework on this.

    And he in fact ordered me breakfast because I found
    it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for
    the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this topic here on your blog.

  14. You actually make it appear really easy together with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I’d by
    no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and very huge for me.
    I am taking a look forward for your subsequent post, I’ll
    attempt to get the cling of it!

  15. Right here is the right website for anybody who really wants to find out about this topic.
    You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not
    that I personally will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a
    new spin on a subject that’s been written about for a long time.
    Great stuff, just wonderful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.