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Genetic Screening?


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Its a Pandora's box: in China and India, there are large and growing imbalances in sexes of newborns due to cultural preference for males. Some say this is why China is going to have a major revolution in no time: all those frustrated males who can't get any... There's an argument that there's a counter-balance in India though where dowries for females is inching up.


For insurance, its just another example of how the freedom of insurance companies to choose the risks they wish to take--a reasonably defensible position--can have the effect of leaving large numbers of individuals without any insurance, forcing the government to become the insurer of last resort, which makes everyone pay the premiums anyway, but allows the insurers to maximize profits and minimize risk. Its a perfect example of the ways in which Adam Smith's Invisible Hand doesn't always make for good public policy.


All health and life insurance today basically signs over your right for the insurance company to see any and all of your medical records: doctor-patient privilege is actually doctor-patient-insurer privilege: only your employer, your parents, and your boyfriend can't see your records. Your only recourse is really to not be tested, and some would argue that ignorance is bliss...


I personally believe in "assigned risk" which forces the insurance companies to have to take what they would otherwise consider "bad risks" (lib states like California have these laws for drivers), so that the government does not have to get in the middle of financing the costs of the "uninsurable".


I'm also an advocate of legally requiring the insurance companies to have to ignore "uncontrollable" factors like genetic predispositions to disease in setting rates, since the frequencies are known, and forknowledge--which as described above, people are encourged *not* to have because they're penalized for it--could lead to better care and lower rates because preventative steps can be taken.


Of course like the rest of big businesses, the insurance companies are making sure that you get the best government that money can buy. Don't look for such laws to pass anytime soon...


There are also the unintended consequences: There was a recent article in the WashPost about some insurers removing themselves from certain high-risk markets for property insurance (think hurricanes, earthquakes), where property values are high. Imagine the crash in real estate prices when people are forced into self-insurance for these pricy markets... kaboom!


Follow the money,


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The technology exists... someone's gonna use it regardless of if you want them to or not. One would hope that any anti-discrimination laws would apply here as well. Mutations have allowed our species to survive. Just because we may view them as strange or bad does not mean they will not be beneficial.

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