Predictive genetic testing may upend the insurance market

Predictive genetic testing may upend the insurance market, The Economist writes, as insurers about adverse selection and consumers worry about discrimination.

Consumers can now on their own order genetic tests that inform them of their risk of developing certain diseases. Health tests can gauges customer’s chances of developing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

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But, consumers who learn they are at genetic risk of a disease like Alzheimer’s are much more likely to buy long-term care insurance than those who don’t know of such risk, as Harvard researchers have reported.

This, Economist says, creates an imbalance in which people who know they are more likely to need such insurance seek it, and drive up rates. But, on the flip side, it adds that people with such higher risk who disclose it could be subject to higher rates or be excluded from coverage.

“Either way, the scientific advances could well disrupt insurance significantly,” it says.

The Economist notes there is a patchwork of regulations around the world, with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in the US barring health insurers from using genetic testing results, though other types of insurers may rely on such results.

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