Friday, November 28, 2003
Can You Spell P-R-E-E-X-I-S-T-I-N-G C-O-N-D-I-T-I-O-N?
Bioethicists and consumer advocates everywhere are wetting themselves over this news from USAToday, and published in the current issue of Science: scientists have found a defective gene that causes heart attacks. Not "increases your risk of heart attack," but rather "causes heart attacks," presumably with 100% certainty (assuming you don't die of something else beforehand) based on the wording of the USAToday article.
I think the good news in this is that as scientists discover more genetic causes for disorders, the strong economic incentives to exclude people from health insurance coverage may create sufficient political pressure for universal health care. As it is now, so long as you can keep from revealing your genetic cards, you don't have much incentive to help pay for someone else's medical treatment. But, if genetic testing becomes widespread, as sufficient numbers of people face their own mortality and the certainty of high medical costs, you may see change. You wonder, however, where all the healthy people will move to avoid paying.
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