Gotcha: Using your own genes against you …

 NPR says …

“Getting the results of a genetic test can be a bit like opening Pandora’s box … you might learn that you’re likely to develop an incurable disease later on in life.”

There’s a federal law that’s supposed to protect people from having their own genes used against them, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA.

Under GINA, it’s illegal for health insurers to raise rates or to deny coverage because of someone’s genetic code.


But the law has a loophole: It only applies to health insurance.

Some insurance can be denied or priced high because of a person’s DNA.

Here’s an example … and a prediction.

GINA doesn’t apply to companies that sell life insurance, disability insurance or long-term-care insurance.

So what?

People who undergo gene testing — and learn they have a gene associated with Alzheimer’s — are five times more likely than the average person to go out and buy long-term-care insurance.

In marketing terms. that’s called adverse selection.

If genetically challenged -– but economically rational — folks flock to get long term care insurance (as they should) ,,, and genetically “clean” folks self-insure …. then the basic insurance model breaks down.

Selling these kinds of policies suddenly becomes unsustainable if genetic testing becomes widespread, and most — or even all — of the people who buy long-term-care policies do so knowing they’re probably going to develop Alzheimer’s sometime down the road.

Insurance needs light users to subsidize heavy users.

Said differently, insurance works when lots of people purchase policies but only a few actually need to use them.

That’s the way insurance pools work.

Adverse selection is especially a problem if the information is asynchronous.

That is, if the person knows about their genetic risk profile but the insurer doesn’t.

So, to protect themselves, long-term-care insurers can legally ask applicants if they’ve been genetically mapped.  And, if the answer is yes, they can legally demand to see the test results.

Going one step further, a long-term-care company could legally require that someone to take a genetic test before issuing a policy.

So, somebody found to have, say, the Alzheimer’s gene may be able to buy health insurance without incurring a risk-adjusted rate … but long-term-care insurance may be denied or priced at an out-of-reach premium.

For more, see Coming Soon: Your Personal DNA Map

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The Prediction

It’s only a matter of time until gene maps become part of the Fed’s ObamaCare database.

Imagine being denied a medical procedure because you have a gene that slots you into a problematic long-term health category … e.g. if you’re likely to eventually suffer Alzheimer’s , you won’t even know that your hip is bad … replacement denied.


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