June 13, 2007

Insuring Against Sequencing

Gherkin3Ha! I could wait more than a week before I mentioned the sequencing of his genome! Today I broke down with this CNE blog on gene testing and insurance. It is the same old debate: should insurance companies be allowed to peek into people's genomes? The current moratoria for this might or might not be a good idea, but there is a risk that the possible threat of information asymmetries would make governments want to restrict citizen gene testing.

As the Watson sequencing shows, we should expect individual genome sequencing within ten years or so, if the current exponential fall in cost continues. At that point it doesn't matter if I'm not allowed to check a gene with a DNA/chip, since I will have it stored on my computer, ready to be analysed using genomics software.

Some papers (this, this and this) I refer to on CNE suggest that information disparities may not be that problematic. The price differences between different insurers depend more on other factors than real risks, assuming the insurers are rational about genetic risks.

I'm not worried about the insurance companies. I'm worried about politicians who would use the 'fairness' of insurance access as a tool to restrict or morphological freedom.

Posted by Anders3 at June 13, 2007 07:21 PM