Friday, December 29, 2006

The Insurance Industry Wants to Genetically Test All Policy Holders

The insurance industry's party line is that it doesn't want to genetically test people who sign up
for policies, a practice that would detect a predisposition to develop cancer, multiple sclerosis,
and other diseases and disorders. The industry's internal documents tell a completely different
story, though.
While researching War Against the Weak — his sweeping history of eugenics (and its successor,
genetics) in the United States and Germany — Edwin Black found two reports written by
insurers for insurers. "Genetic Information and Medical Expense" — published in June 2000 by
the American Academy of Actuaries — intones that an inability to ask for genetic tests "would
have a direct impact on premium rates, ultimately raising the cost of insurance for everyone."
A paper issued by the same group in spring 2002 goes further, envisioning a nightmare scenario
in which the entire insurance industry collapses. The genetically impure can't be weeded out,
thus meaning that more of them get covered. Because of this, the insurers have lo pay out more
benefits, which drives up premiums for everybody. This causes some people with perfect
chromosomes to be unable to afford insurance, which means a higher percentage of the insured
are chromosomally challenged. A downward spiral has started, with more benefits paid out,
higher premiums charged, fewer healthy people covered, more benefits, higher premiums, fewer
healthy people, etc. This, the report warns, "could eventually cause the insurers to become
In the UK, insurance companies were widely screening applicants for genetic red flags until
Parliament slapped a moratorium on the practice in 2001, allowing only one type of test to be
used. British companies argue that they will go belly-up if the ban isn't lifted soon. Based on this
alone, it's ridiculous for the US insurance industry to claim it isn't hoping to use these tests.
With the fate of the insurance racket supposedly hanging in the balance, how long can it be
before genetic screening is mandatory when applying for health or life coverage?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is utterly absurd - the insurance "racket" has been around forever, and operates fine without the benefit of genetic testing. The recent availability of genetic testing can only be considered an extra advantage to increase profitability, which the insurance providers have historically survived fine without.