Obamacare: DNA tests not required

Should insurance companies be allowed to use DNA tests to decide how much to charge someone?  Insurance companies currently use such information as sex, age, preexisting medical conditions, BMI, smoking, and other factors to set rates for individuals on the basis that these factors effect the likelihood of payouts. DNA information can show genetic likelihood of contracting certain diseases. Should insurance companies be allowed to collect and analyze DNA prior to setting an individual’s policy cost?

High Techie

Dear High Techie,

Currently, health reform prohibits health insurers from asking any medical questions of their new or renewing customers.  It would be hard to imagine this getting reversed to the point where DNA tests could be used for charging people different rates for their health insurance.

Life and disability insurance, however, could possibly go this route.  It’s not clear whether a person’s DNA would be a valid predictor of his future disability or even life span.  The technology may have to advance further in order for this calculation to be refined.  Keep in mind too that the insurer only has to predict the risk for the period of time that the customer buys the insurance.  They can limit their risk by requiring updated physicals every five years, for example.  This is probably a better and more direct source of data about their insured risk than a DNA study.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.