At Least Sometimes Politicians Are Rational

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 an employer to fire someone based on his genes, and 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. It doesn’t say anything about companies that sell life insurance, disability insurance or long-term-care insurance.

Source: NPR.

Comments (8)

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  1. Evan Carr says:

    One doesn’t have to strain too hard to imagine life insurance companies of the future demanding genetic tests before issuing policies. Rates could easily be determined by genetic pre-dispositions and advanced formulas could calculate each person’s likely expenses.

    I think the science behind genetics is still far too mysterious to warrant a scenario like I described above. While we have certainly linked certain genetic sequences, splices and mutations with certain diseases, there are still too many intervening variables that factor how healthy someone is and whether they contract a chronic or terminal condition.

    The article mentions Alzheimer’s as its example. Some people have the genetic code for Alzheimer’s but never develop any symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia. According to Aging with Grace, a book about the longitudinal nun study on Alzheimer’s by Dr. David Snowdon, genetic predisposition is far less likely to predict Alzheimer’s than strokes, heart attacks, plaques, tangles and mental activity throughout life. Hardly a justification for basing or denying life/disability/long-term-care insurance!

  2. Bruce says:

    Yes, but it’s all too rare.

  3. Andrew O says:

    I wonder what the real reasoning behind omitting these other types of necessary insurance is. Are these insurance companies lobbying against the law applying to them or is there some evidence-based research supporting why such law shouldn’t apply to them? I highly doubt the latter is true though.

  4. Jordan says:

    Well said Evan

  5. Virgo says:

    Does this really make politicians rational? This is about providing a consumer-driven health care…not a politician-driven health care. I doubt it has anything to do with rationality. History shows politicians are anything but objective :)

  6. Neil Caffrey says:

    Sometimes politicians DO use their common sense!

  7. The Native Indian says:

    What makes “life insurance, disability insurance or long-term-care insurance” so different from health insurance that makes them immune from this law.

  8. Patricia Dulaney says:

    This rarely happen. Life insurance for me is very important.