Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

Posted on May 6, 2007  Comments (1)

I agree with restricting the use of genetic information for things like insurance – US to outlaw corporate prejudice based on genes:

Soon it will be illegal to deny US citizens jobs or insurance simply because they have an inherited illness, or a genetic predisposition to a particular disease.

On 25 April, the House of Representatives voted 420 to 3 to pass the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The Senate is expected to endorse the act within a few weeks, which is also supported by President Bush. “I am so stunned by the majority,” says Sharon Terry, president of the Genetic Alliance, a charity lobbying for the rights of people with inherited illnesses.

Genetic information can provide valuable information about risks. It is not often that I am for saying people should be prohibited from using information that would aid them in making better decisions. However it can be the best public policy to require insurance companies to be prohibited from using information that would allow them to better access risks and price insurance accordingly. So those that know they have such genetic risks will be paying less than they would if the insurance companies were allowed to use that information and everyone else will pay more (to cover for those with the increased risk). I think that is the best policy for the society. However it is not really about outlawing corporate prejudice it is about saying that we will have everyone is society share the cost of risks rather than those that can be identified as greater health risks.

Thinking this is about preventing bad corporate behavior seems to me an attempt to change the focus of the real issue. And that is not a good idea because this is a complex area that we are going to have to make a wide number of decisions about as a society. Pretending the issue is simple does society a disservice. This is an large economic issue and what choices various societies decided to make will be debated extensively for quite some time I believe..

Related: Improving the heath care system posts (from our management blog) – post about health care (from this blog)

One Response to “Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Our Genome Changes as We Age
    June 26th, 2008 @ 1:31 pm

    “The key thing this part of the study told us is that levels changed over time, proof of principle that an individual’s epigenetic profile does change with age…”

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