The President calls for a ban on genetic discrimination. (Link)
I betcha this will be a very important topic of our future world. As the (very short) article says, banning this kind of discrimination would have at least two effects:
1. It would eliminate the fear that people might have about getting checked for possible genetic predisposition to disease. (I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s a fear of a lot of Americans today, but give it time.)
2. It would eliminate the unsavory possibility that people could be turned down for insurance because their genetic profile suggests a high risk.
But on the other hand, donâ€™t insurance companies have a right to protect themselves? If their bean counters figure out that youâ€™re 6 times more likely to die before the age of 50, shouldnâ€™t they be allowed to charge you more for life insurance?
Anf if youâ€™re 6 times more likely to need expensive therapies, shouldnâ€™t they be allowed to charge you more for health insurance?
I guess we have a sense that genetic issues arenâ€™t the fault of the person who has the possible predisposition. We donâ€™t have a problem with insurance companies charging more for smokers, or drinkers, or bad drivers, or people in high-risk professions. Do we?
[Then again, if you have no insurance before finding that you have a heart condition, you may be in some trouble, right? Is that your fault? In a way, maybe we think it is, because you could Â have bought the insurance a long time ago. But doctors could find a genetic problem even before youâ€™re born!
Or is the difference that the heart condition has expressed itself, while the genetic condition may never express itself as anything more than a probability?]
Anyway, is it ok to say that if itâ€™s not the personâ€™s fault, the insurance company should carry the difference? Is this a morality thing that we feel? I mean, itâ€™s not the insurance companyâ€™s fault either, so why should they pay?
Then again (again), itâ€™s not as though insurance companies are going broke without this new genetic edge, are they? (Are they?) Maybe this would be one way that they just have to suck it up for the good of humanity. And after all, theyâ€™re not REALLY carrying the difference. Theyâ€™re surely passing it on to all of us.
So in the end, the question is: Are you willing to pay higher prices for insurance in order to cover those who have genetic skeletons in their closets?
[Mind you, this is all aside from whether a company could decide not to hire you because of your probability. Maybe they donâ€™t want to because of higher insurance costs (see all that stuff above), or maybe they donâ€™t want to train you just to have you drop dead at your cubicle. Should businesses be allowed to not hire you for this reason? Some already wonâ€™t hire smokers. Is that ok?]
Off the top of my head, my thinking is that I agree with the Prez. The society that I want to live in is willing to pick up the tab a bit, and wait until a defect actually occurs before assuming that all is lost. Thatâ€™s just off the top of my head. I tend to waver.