Genetic Info. to Insurance Companies?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by NE_Cornhusker1, Dec 12, 2001.

  1. NE_Cornhusker1

    NE_Cornhusker1 12" Member

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    I have heard this is quickly becoming a favorite at my state school's interviews, What are your guys/gals thoughts on this? Anybody know of any good websites about this?
     
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  3. NE_Cornhusker1

    NE_Cornhusker1 12" Member

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    More specifically, the use of genetic info. to charge higher premiums, no insurance coverage, etc.
     
  4. kutastha

    kutastha 2K Member
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    I think it's ridiculous and it'll probably happen. Doing so would mean they're not assuming you won't get a disease from a genetic predisposition - they're betting you will. And because you have that chance, you get to pay more for medical insurance before said disease even manifests itself? Just burns my butt thinking about it.

    Andrew
     
  5. eagle26

    eagle26 Senior Member

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    It's a trampling of privacy and human rights. I already heard of one child being denied health insurance because his parents were carriers for the gene responsible for Tay-Sachs disease..sad.
     
  6. altaskier

    altaskier Altaholics Anonymous 92'

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    First of all, this means that the insurance companies would have to do some major work ups on you to find out what your genetic library looks like and what you carry. Remember that the motto for insurance companies is that "we won't cover what you already had and if you already have something and want coverage we are gonna jack up the price". For example, if you have HIV and want to get insurance, well you'll be paying high high fees. So by the same logical reasoning, they could also use genetic info to charge you more. However, the difference is that your actions (ie. sexual practices, etc) did not cause you do contract a genetic defect, whereas with HIV you probably did make some mistake. But to the insurance companies, that is irrelevant. The flip side of the coin is that discrimination suits could be filed against insurance companies. After all, I think that your genetic make up is just like your race, culture, skin color, ethinicity, etc. Hopefully this will work and the insurance companies will back down due to the cry of discrimination from customers.


    It's a big mess to me,
    Altaskier
     
  7. colorado_1

    colorado_1 Member

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    well, I'm an MS1 so I can give you a pretty good guess at how our faculty would view this and at least a thought for your answer.

    Insurace -- Insurance in and of itself is basically a system where the younger, healthier members pay for the services used by older and more chronically ill members. That being said . . .

    I see some problems here. So we change things. We make YOUR premiums fit more closely to what they think you might have to use. Okay, so as a younger person, it would then be pretty much easier to just get some kind of cheap catistrophic insurance and just pay per services and come out ahead. Then the older people who were in my former H.M.O. will suffer higher premiums as I leave the H.M.O.

    To be honest, I don't think Insurance companies will ever get access to that info. There's just too much public sentiment (which leads to legislation) against it plus as a physician I would be outraged at that breech of confidentiality as I assume most physicians would.

    Basically, if they could get this done, they'd already be doing it with screening for any number of known genetic disorders now.

    just some thoughts . . .
     
  8. tidy_kiwi

    tidy_kiwi Senior Member

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    You should watch the movie GATTACA - it kind of takes this type of genetic profiling to the extreme....
     
  9. NE_Cornhusker1

    NE_Cornhusker1 12" Member

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    Thanks to all of you, I had to do a debate on it today in my genetics course. I arguing on the side of insurance companies, your thoughts helped me craft a beautiful argument for giving genetic info. to the companies. I said much of what colorado_1 said, especially about premiums and paying for others. GO HUSKERS!
     
  10. lake show

    lake show Senior Member

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    damn cornhusker. pretty sneaky how you opened this topic up without mentioning the fact that you were using it for your class. :p

    from a business standpoint, insurance companies assume a HUGE risk in favor of hopefully greater rewards. when they insure HIV patients, the fact is that they will die sooner and be in the hospital more than non-HIV patients. therefore, to recoup the money they end up spending on the HIV patient, they have to jack the premium up. remember, insurance companies are simply businesses, they don't have to exist, but in doing so, they must make money somehow. to do this, they have huge actuarial data on each and every age group, race, gender, etc. they use that data in assuming their risk. in most insurance companies, they actually buy insurance for the insurance they give out as well to spread the risk.

    should genetic information be a part of this data? i don't think so, just because to me, it is the ultimate private data that should not be revealed to anybody but a select few people.
     
  11. NE_Cornhusker1

    NE_Cornhusker1 12" Member

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    So that people can be a little more informed about this topic I will post a few reasons why insurance companies should have access to genetic information and why people should be tested, here it goes;

    1. Why not to consider genetic infromation priveleged.
    - If genetic information was priviligied some one could test positive for a genetic disease (breast or colon cancer for example) and NOT be denied insurance.
    - If they test negative or don't get tested at all they COULD be denied insurance on the basis of family history.

    2. Why to get tested.
    - IN general everyone is lumped together for insurance (those genetic susecptability and those without it). By testing negative for a genetic susepctability your insurance costs can be lowered accordingly. Those who test positive for susepctability will pay "their fair share."

    Just my thoughts. Thanks.
     
  12. IlliniEMT1

    IlliniEMT1 Member

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    To play devil's advocate
    The company will assess your probability of having a medical problem and use your age, sex, whether you smoke, drink, etc... These are not sure indicators, but the calculation is based on probability, just as a genetic predisposition is a probability. They are risking their profit, and other customer's premiums on you. Why should they be denied acess to pertinent information?
    Should they deny you coverage based on your genes? I dont think so. But should they be able to adjust the price based on your chances of developing a medical condition? That is simply their buisness.
    I dont think they should have full access to my DNA, but I think in some ways it would be fair for them to request certain parts of this data.
     
  13. none

    none 1K Member

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    I'm pretty much for it. First off, for companies to do this, they'll have to put in MAJOR research dollars. The tech is not there for this at all yet. Not on a large scale, not nearly. And research is always good, even if it's used for bad purposes. Second, it'll push gene therapy to a level we've never seen because everyone will know what's going to happen to them. They'll want a cure NOW! I've always believed in concepts like...we'll never get off this planet until it become uncomfortable to be here. Neccessity is the mother of invention.
     
  14. NE_Cornhusker1

    NE_Cornhusker1 12" Member

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    IlliniEMT1
    I couldn't agree with you more. I was just throwing out examples of why insurance companies should have access to genetic data. I'll throw out a couple more thoughts;
    - Say for example a gene that causes sudden death without no detectable symptoms is discovered and a guy goes down to his local lab and tests positive for the gene (he's going to die suddenly and asymptomatically). Being a smart guy he decides to take out an $8M life insurance policy on himself. Being a sneaky guy, taking advantage of the fact he doesn't have to tell the insurance company about the test (this is assuming that genetic info. is kept seperate from medical records). He could then promptly die two weeks after the policy is in effect and screw the insurance company over. How's that fair?

    - Personally I am of the opinion that insurance companies should know whether or not you possess certain genetic markers as well as the results tests such as RFLP's and protein truncation tests.Provided of course that the results of these test are actuarily fair.

    Those are just my thoughts though.
     

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