Last month the Food and Drug Administration gave its approval for the gene testing company 23andMe to offer tests assessing risks for developing conditions such as Parkinson’s and celiac disease. Other genetics companies are planning to follow suit shortly and offer tests that will give people a better idea of what their “medical futures” look like. Although this may seem like an excellent step forward, these tests could actually prove to be a disaster for companies selling long-term care insurance. The issue does not currently lie with employment or health insurance because the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act protects employees from being asked to take gene tests and results cannot be used in employment decisions. However, unlike medical insurers, companies selling long-term care insurance can ask about health status and are permitted to consider future health when making decisions on whom they will insure and how much they will charge. The issue for these companies is that they believe many customers will choose not to reveal this information and genetics companies promise not to disclose anything to third parties.
Increasing numbers of people at low risk might decide the insurance was not worth the rising price. Even many at high risk would eventually find the policies unaffordable. It is the definition of an insurance death spiral. – New York Times
Read more from the New York Times here.