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Welfare Effects of Banning Genetic Information in the Life Insurance Market: The Case of BRCA1/2 Genes

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  • Michael Hoy

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Guelph)

  • Julia Witt

Abstract

This paper is a contribution to the debate about whether regulations that ban insurance companies from access to individuals’ genetic tests may lead in the near to medium term future to substantial adverse selection costs. We choose the specific possibility of widespread knowledge based on genetic testing for the so-called breast cancer (BRCA1/2) genes. We use a data set including economic, demographic, and relevant family background information to simulate the market for 10-year term life insurance targeted at women aged 35 to 39. Using standard welfare economic analysis for various information and regulatory scenarios concerning genetic test results, we find generally only modest adverse selection costs associated with such a regulatory ban. However, for family background groups which are at high risk for carrying one of the BRCA1/2 genes, the efficiency cost of adverse selection may be significant especially if a large fraction of women within such groups were to obtain genetic test results. These results, therefore, suggest some caution in developing regulations which protect individuals’ genetic privacy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers with number 0505.

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Length: 58 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gue:guelph:2005-5

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References

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  1. Crocker, Keith J & Snow, Arthur, 1986. "The Efficiency Effects of Categorical Discrimination in the Insurance Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 321-44, April.
  2. Marc Fleurbaey & Walter Bossert, 2002. "Equitable insurance premium schemes," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 113-125.
  3. Michael Hoy, 1984. "The Impact of Imperfectly Categorizing Risks on Income Inequality and Social Welfare," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 17(3), pages 557-68, August.
  4. John Cawley & Tomas Philipson, 1996. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," NBER Working Papers 5669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Abel, Andrew B, 1986. "Capital Accumulation and Uncertain Lifetimes with Adverse Selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1079-97, September.
  6. Mark V. Pauly & Kate H. Withers & Krupa Subramanian-Viswana & Jean Lemaire & John C. Hershey, 2003. "Price Elasticity of Demand for Term Life Insurance and Adverse Selection," NBER Working Papers 9925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Gabriel Picone & Frank Sloan & Donald Taylor, 2004. "Effects of Risk and Time Preference and Expected Longevity on Demand for Medical Tests," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 39-53, January.
  8. Brugiavini, Agar, 1993. "Uncertainty resolution and the timing of annuity purchases," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 31-62, January.
  9. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  10. Wilson, Charles, 1977. "A model of insurance markets with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 167-207, December.
  11. Hoy, Michael & Polborn, Mattias, 2000. "The value of genetic information in the life insurance market," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 235-252, November.
  12. Villeneuve, Bertrand, 2000. "Life Insurance," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/5369, Paris Dauphine University.
  13. Blake, David, 1996. "Efficiency, Risk Aversion and Portfolio Insurance: An Analysis of Financial Asset Portfolios Held by Investors in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1175-92, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Kesternich, Iris & Schumacher, Heiner, 2009. "On the Use of Information in Repeated Insurance Markets," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 280, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  2. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba & Casey Rothschild, 2006. "Redistribution by Insurance Market Regulation: Analyzing a Ban on Gender-Based Retirement Annuities," NBER Working Papers 12205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Oster, Emily & Shoulson, Ira & Quaid, Kimberly & Dorsey, E. Ray, 2010. "Genetic adverse selection: Evidence from long-term care insurance and Huntington disease," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1041-1050, December.
  4. Filipova-Neumann, Lilia & Hoy, Michael, 2014. "Managing genetic tests, surveillance, and preventive medicine under a public health insurance system," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 31-41.
  5. Michael Hoy & Richard Peter & Andreas Richter, 2014. "Take-up for genetic tests and ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 111-133, April.
  6. Georges Dionne & Casey G. Rothschild, 2014. "Economic Effects of Risk Classification Bans," Cahiers de recherche 1420, CIRPEE.

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