Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Genetic Analysis and Full Disclosure

In my previous post, I was trying to raise what I feel is an interesting issue. I think part of my point might have been lost.

Based on past experience, with applications for health and life insurance, it is a bad thing to have had a prior condition. Known and understood conditions are asked about on the insurance. Saying that you have a problem on an application gets that information into the system and may well affect your premiums or ability to get insurance. Not admitting a condition might lead to your coverage being dropped when you need it most (if they research and find prior existence of the condition).

My strong preference would be to change the way the system works so that people are not penalized for their knowledge. Right now, having cancer is not a problem. Knowing that you have cancer is. Not having cancer now does not help you if you have had cancer in the past.

With the way the current system works, systems like 23andme worry me. I worry that this knowledge and database of knowledge will be used against the consumers. How long do you think it will be, assuming it has not happened already, until people are asked if they have a genetic predisposition to a problem and have their ability to get covered affected. Right now it feels like an interesting time to go and use a service like 23andme, gain additional knowledge, and buy insurance before they ask about genetic predispositions. You may have to keep that insurance for the rest of your life.

Does anybody else feel like Gataca is coming? Oh, you cannot do this job because there is a slightly higher percentage chance that you will have heart disease. Sorry, it does not matter that your heart is fine, you have a slightly higher percentage chance that you will have heart disease.

As we understand more and more of the problems, issues, and interconnections between parts of the body and mind, I think this issue will become more and more important. I hope that insurance forms do not become a limiting factor in the quest for knowledge. I hope that additional knowledge does not become a problem for those that have it.