Ronald Bailey on S.306

Coverage of S.306 is beginning to trickle in.  Here is snip from Ronald Bailey on the potential future of the health insurance industry after genetic non-discrimination, if it makes it through the House:

"Will increasingly extensive genetic testing produce some sort of
insurance crisis? Will Americans protected by the Genetic Information
Non-Discrimination Act of 2005 have themselves tested and then rush out
to buy gold-plated insurance if it turns out that they are particularly
prone to some nasty disease? Will this adverse selection then drive
relatively healthy people out of the health insurance market as
premiums skyrocket to cover those who know that they are at greater
risk of genetic disease?  Perhaps…"

This isn’t the first instance that the future of the insurance market in the post-genomic era has been called into question.  In 2002 William Brody, president of John Hopkins University, made the prediction in the Wall Street Journal that genomics would ultimately result in a single-payer system:

Genetic testing is health insurance’s iceberg. Right now, most
of the consequences are out of sight. But just below the surface,
there is an enormous problem lurking…In the years ahead, genetic testing will become gradually more
pervasive, and at the same time, our knowledge of the risk of
disease associated with the results of those tests will become
increasingly refined. The result could be the end of private health
insurance as we now know it.  If legislatures pass laws banning insurers from using genetic
screening data, those companies will protect themselves by
continually raising premiums to consumers. Some may even go
bankrupt because purchasers of insurance will be the more
knowledgeable in the transaction…Yet if we allow insurers to use genetic data, many more
individuals will be left without coverage because they will be
deemed too high-risk to warrant insurance at affordable prices.
Given this conundrum, there is only one solution that can preserve
the concept of health insurance: universal coverage.

I’ll try to catch as much of the coverage as I can.  I hope there is
lot of good debate.  If you see something worthy of mention, drop me a line.

Ronald Bailey. "The Genetic Insurance Racket. Will genetic testing destroy the insurance market?" Reason Online, February 23, 2005.

William R. Brody. "A Brave New
Insurance. " Wall Street Journal.  December 20, 2002. pg. A.14



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