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DNA and Insurance

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"DNA and Insurance"

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Kevin Drum had an interesting post up yesterday about the problematic interaction between genetic testing of various sorts and the vagaries of the health insurance industry. It’s worth emphasizing that this issue is almost certainly going to grow more intense over time as our understanding of genetics increases. Basically, you’ll have a situation where unless we can substantially reduce private health insurance’s role in the financing and delivery of health care, everyone’s going to be going around deliberately ignorant of tons of medically useful information.

Meanwhile, I should add that though I understand the political rationale for trying to basically regulate insurance firms out of the discrimination business rather than simply killing the firms off, I wouldn’t be optimistic about success over the long run. Risk assessment and risk screening is the raison d’être of the insurance firm — it’s what the business, fundamentally, is all about. We ought to have faith that market capitalism will quickly enough find ways to de facto achieve whatever risk screening is de jure prohibited. It becomes essentially a question of savvy marketing and product design to make sure that your particular insurance package is mostly bought be a disproportionately young and healthy customers.

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