“No Solution to This Dilemma Exists”: Discrimination, Insurance, and the Human Genome Project
The debate about whether insurance companies should be allowed to use results of genetic tests for underwriting purposes is both lively and increasingly relevant as both technology and lawmaking efforts are progressing rapidly. Much concern has been raised about whether allowing firms to use such information to create risk-rated insurance premiums (genetic ratemaking) is unfairly discriminatory. We show that, especially in the context of the manner in which insurance markets operate, arguments about the appropriateness of allowing such information use by insurers which are based on discrimination are very fragile from a conceptual or philosophical perspective. Moreover, a focus on discrimination is not very helpful from a pragmatic or policy oriented perspective. We argue that adopting a Utilitarian welfare framework, as inspired by Harsanyi’s (1953,1955) veil of ignorance interpretation, in order to determine whether risk-rating by use of genetic test results is morally defensible provides a much more promising line of reasoning for settling this controversial issue.
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