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Taking an Ancestry Test Could Make It Harder to Buy Life Insurance (cbslocal.com)
96 points by Jerry2 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 91 comments





This was already happening in 1994. I brought this issue up to my squadron commander regarding DNA samples the military was attempting to gather from everyone. He said, "What, are you afraid we are going to clone you?" To which I said, "No sir, you should be afraid if you cloned me." and we both had a chuckle because we both know I was right.

I explained that insurance companies had already been denying claims for people laid up in the hospital based on "pre existing risk" that they might be at risk for getting cancer or becoming an alcoholic.

He had me submit a FOIA request which bought me some time. It went all the way to Al Gore. I received boxes of paperwork that essentially amounted to "The Chief Medical Officer can decide what to do with DNA information and how it is managed." That bought me enough time to hit my four years and get out without having to challenge them in court. I never gave them any samples and I do not regret my actions.


(US perspective) I've wondered if for-profit insurance as we know it can survive changes in advances in actuarial science & related fields.

As I understand it, the entire concept of insurance is based around gathering relatively large groups of people with a solid understanding of their average risks for certain types of loss. Given the averages hold accurate over time, those that need a payout can get one, and the insurance company makes money in aggregate.

However, the better the insurance companies can understand our risk profiles as individuals (going well beyond age/sex/smoking/etc/etc/etc) - eventually (in theory) a motivated insurance company is going to be able to determine that I have a 90% chance of developing Serious Syndrome X while you have a 97% chance of developing Minor Issue Y.

Today we might get put into the risk pool. But as the science advances, the risk pools can be cut into finer and finer (and more accurate) risk pools. Why should a profit-seeking insurance company insure me past some point when the data strongly indicates i'm going to need drastic and expensive intervention.

It seems like the three ways to avoid this are: 1. "Advances" like the one mentioned here don't turn out to have enough predictive power and insurance continues to operate much as before 2. Some people just can't get for-profit insurance, at least not for health coverage (I'd think accidents will always remain much harder to predict than e.g. heart disease). Pushing them into some kind of not-for-profit 3. Regulation forces blinders on to underwriters essentially saying "actuarial science advances to here and no further"


> Pushing them into some kind of not-for-profit

Health (and perhaps life) insurance should be not-for-profit, period. Healthcare providers in general should also be either nonprofit, or they should be mandated to publish their prices and stick to them, so that transparent competition exists in the marketplace.


I’m not saying I disagree, but what’s your argument that life insurance should be nonprofit?

Insurance companies that make a profit are strongly incentivized to maximize premiums and find excuses not to pay claims, which is exactly what TFA suggests. Doing these things is exactly what gets you a nice bonus if you're a manager at an insurance company. A non-profit organizational structure removes such personal incentives for customer abuse.

I don't think that's how risk pools work in the first place.

The idea is not to put people with similar levels of risk in the same pool. The idea is to make the pool as large as possible, charge everyone for their expected cost + a margin, and then pay out everyone for their actual costs.

It's the law of large numbers at work here. Take the mean value of a large number of variables with high variance and you end up with a mean that has low variance.

Not only is it normal for people with condition X to be in the same pool as condition Y, but this is a good thing because the costs for people with condition X are less correlated with the costs for people with condition Y, and this reduces risk in the pool. For example, if you have a pool that only contains people with condition X, and then it turns out that a commonly used medication prescribed for condition X has horrible side effects, then that single problem is disastrous for the entire pool.

> Why should a profit-seeking insurance company insure me past some point when the data strongly indicates i'm going to need drastic and expensive intervention.

Because you pass laws that make it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage on this basis, and then you turn around and pass laws to keep the pool healthy enough for insurance to still be profitable. Or you just nationalize it.


Isn't what you describe in the first three paragraphs of your comment the same system as what the person you're replying to outlined in their first paragraph? It seems to me like you stated you don't think the parent commenter's outline of risk pools is accurate, but then went on to describe the same system.

How is it different? Both of you are talking about risk pools consisting of large groups of people with different risk profiles for different healthcare liabilities. The commenter you replied to seems to be talking about this concept breaking down as insurance companies increasingly slice risk pools down such that their profit depends less on understanding the mean and more on predicting the future.

That being said, your last point sounds like a decent proposal for how to combat this problem. I'm not sure if it would work in practice, however, as healthcare legislation seems to be hotly contested on all sides.


> The idea is not to put people with similar levels of risk in the same pool. The idea is to make the pool as large as possible, charge everyone for their expected cost + a margin...

As a consumer who is fortunate enough to get life insurance at the "Super Preferred" low-risk rate, I would prefer be in a small pool that excludes people with higher actual costs. That's an economic preference, not moral, though my morals are not bothered by using the system as designed.

As long as insurance companies are free to offer plans that admit only really healthy people and exclude people with higher actual costs, my plan will be cheaper. Really healthy people will drop out of the larger pool and into the cheaper pool. The larger pool will, as a result, get more expensive. And the people remaining in what's effectively the shallow end of the pool will be offered a "Preferred" rate that's more expensive than super preferred but less than the large pool.

Eventually you end up with small risk pools, with the least insurable, highest-risk and highest actual cost customers unable to buy affordable life insurance. If you're a 20-year-old obese diabetic who smokes and has a family history of cancer, and the actuarial table says there's a 50% chance that your 50-year $1M policy will have to pay out, your premiums before a margin are 1M * 50% / 50 / 12 = $833/month. That's not really affordable, even if it would be wise for our unhealthy friend if he or she has dependents. My super-preferred policy costs me $21.25/month.

I empathize with the plight of the uninsurable. Given my voting history on health insurance issues, I would probably vote in favor of a law that limited segmentation and would bump my premiums to, say $50/mo and would offer life insurance to the $833/mo individual at the same rate. But I'm not going to jump from my pool into a more expensive pool by myself if that signal will fall on deaf ears.


"I sympathize with their problem but I won't disadvantage myself just to help them"

In Europe I believe that insurance already may not discriminate on sex: compared to women, men's car insurance got cheaper and retirement annuities got more expensive, when this began.

Why wouldn't we just extend this to cover more things? We are free to design what kind of insurance market we wish to have. For-profit companies don't have to be operating in some kind of absolute free-for-all.


>In Europe I believe that insurance already may not discriminate on sex: compared to women, men's car insurance got cheaper

That's false. After EU came meddling insurance was raised for men to the same level women had even though men have statistically lower risk of accident.


That's odd. Here in North America I believe most insurance companies charge men more than women as they have a higher risk of serious accidents.

You've probably heard of the phrase "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

So, I think (though I will admit it was long ago last time I looked this up), that men have a lower accident rate per mile driven but have a higher accident rate per time period (not time period driving). The reason is that men drive more (or at least use to, back when I read these statistics).

There is also the difference between different kinds of accidents. While per mile driven men have less accidents than women, they tend to, as you mentioned, be worse accidents. I forget if this actually made them cost more per mile driven or not, but once you also add in that they drive more, in a given year men do cost more and are charged more. (There is also the impact of younger men who have more thrill seeking behavior, so if you compared men and women within a specific age group you might find the statistics don't match the statistics across all age groups.)

So, thanks to the beauty of statistics, we can say that men are better drivers than women and men are worse drivers than women by using slightly different definitions of better or worse that, in layman English, are glossed over.


> they tend to, as you mentioned, be worse accidents.

This reminds me of red light cameras. People love to complain that they only exist to make money because they statistically cause more accidents. And it's true, they do cause an increase in total number of accidents. But they decrease the number of serious accidents. You get more rear end collisions, but fewer T-Bone collisions which tend to be much more serious.


Could depend on the age group and driving record. In some age groups men can be overly aggressive drivers but overall less accidents compared to women.

For the person who downvoted OP was referring to the EU. Previously men paid less but when EU decided statistics are sexist now both pay the same higher amount. Yay for the consumer


Anyone got data? Prices change over time.

The best I could do in 5 minutes googling was newspapers complaining that, on average, men still pay more... because they drive (on average) further, in more expensive cars.

And rumours that they are setting the rates for different professions as a way to get around the rule... huge differences like this:

    Dental Nurse Less than 1pc male £840 
    Solicitor 59pc male £848 
    Sports and leisure assistants 56pc male £880 
    Civil engineer 92pc male £910 
    Social worker 21pc male £920 
    Plasterer 98pc male £950
I had an idea that retirement annuities etc, which are a much bigger deal, were much more regulated & could only price based on a few numbers. But I don't have a link.

It was big news at the time in Europe as it affected vast amount of people's bottom line (mine as well). Would be interesting to know if it was lobbied to some extend.

The premise was that women would pay the same amount as men lowering the rate (Good thing). But for everyone who have followed politics knew it's not going to be a so simple. You have countless of examples where companies just skirt around the law and it end up hurting consumers.

Pretty much sums many EU decisions. On paper they can seem decent enough but in reality not so much. And women were affected as well as you might imagine low income families took the biggest relative hit.


> Why should a profit-seeking insurance company insure me past some point

Seems like a good argument for single payer insurance.


I think it's an argument for very large non discriminating risk pools.

The biggest being one large risk pool that all citizens are a part of.

Seems like a good argument for single payer insurance!

Not necessarily. You can have multiple insurances compete over the whole country.

And they compete on which can most successfully discriminate without getting caught. What's the point?

No discrimination. You take anybody or you are out of the market.

What is the motive then for a for-profit company to even exist? If every insurance company has to take everybody, that implies they have to also provide the same coverage to everyone at the same rate. Barring cartel-like collusion, which is already illegal, the market price would quickly converge towards the cost of insurance. There would be basically no upside, but almost unlimited downside.

"What is the motive then for a for-profit company to even exist? If every insurance company has to take everybody, that implies they have to also provide the same coverage to everyone at the same rate. "

Correct. And whoever is more efficient wins. That's no different from any other retail business. My grocery store sells lettuce to anybody. Some are more efficient and can offer better prices. Or they sell better lettuce. But regulation sets minimum requirements so nobody can sell fake or toxic lettuce.

I thought that's how the market works.


"More efficient" in this case meaning whoever can discriminate the most, and whoever can deny the most claims without getting caught.

That can be checked by enforcing regulations. Grocery stores don't compete over circumventing food safety regulations.

Yeah, this idea of comparing insurance companies to grocery stores doesn't really fly.

Why not? Both have to operate within rules as long as they are enforced. So if the rules tell them to not discriminate they have to follow them or face consequences.

Because the upside to these companies has a pretty low ceiling, especially if there is downward price pressure because insurance companies can't differentiate on risk or coverage. This leads to very thin profit margins.

However, due to the nature of insurance, even a relatively small number of people developing expensive conditions can be catastrophic. Remember, in your scenario, you are REQUIRED to cover them.

If you're going to have only one combined risk pool, you need to be able to guarantee coverage even facing catastrophic insurance costs. The only real way to do this is to be backed by somebody with very, very deep pockets, like, say, the federal government.


Having worked in a grocery store, I know that's not true.

There are certain features of insurance that make it very different from other products - competition does not necessarily lead to optimum outcomes with insurance.

Checkout adverse selection and moral hazard.


Insurance is a misnomer for such a scheme - premia aren't priced according to actuarial risk. The scheme only works because the low risk young have to join and subsidise the higher risk old.

Knowing more about risk pools does not change the rate of deaths. So, for everything negative you learn someone else ends up in a more positive light as the overall average does not change.

Now, if we find a lot of negative things about one person their premiums might become unaffordable but otherwise it's not a big deal for the industry.


> Why should a profit-seeking insurance company insure me past some point when the data strongly indicates i'm going to need drastic and expensive intervention.

They shouldn't.


that is why the private sector cannot alone supply medical insurance

>As I understand it, the entire concept of insurance is based around gathering relatively large groups of people with a solid understanding of their average risks for certain types of loss. Given the averages hold accurate over time, those that need a payout can get one, and the insurance company makes money in aggregate.

>However, the better the insurance companies can understand our risk profiles as individuals (going well beyond age/sex/smoking/etc/etc/etc) - eventually (in theory) a motivated insurance company is going to be able to determine that I have a 90% chance of developing Serious Syndrome X while you have a 97% chance of developing Minor Issue Y.

Even as predictive models improve, insurance will always rely on risk pooling. Even if you believe that insurable events like death are completely deterministic, insurers' information will always be imperfect. So models will always have an epsilon (noise) term, which is diversifiable.

>Today we might get put into the risk pool. But as the science advances, the risk pools can be cut into finer and finer (and more accurate) risk pools. Why should a profit-seeking insurance company insure me past some point when the data strongly indicates i'm going to need drastic and expensive intervention.

Because they will still profit on average if they charge you more than the expected value of claims. Insurers have historically been hesitant to insure high-risk individuals for any price, in part because they're not confident enough in their ability to accurately quantify the risk associated with them. I'd argue that more granular and accurate rating will actually improve high-risk individuals' access to life insurance for that reason. Edited to add: I suspect that the same would be true of health insurers, though that's currently moot in the US due to the ACA.

>It seems like the three ways to avoid this are: 1. "Advances" like the one mentioned here don't turn out to have enough predictive power and insurance continues to operate much as before 2. Some people just can't get for-profit insurance, at least not for health coverage (I'd think accidents will always remain much harder to predict than e.g. heart disease). Pushing them into some kind of not-for-profit 3. Regulation forces blinders on to underwriters essentially saying "actuarial science advances to here and no further"

The status quo is mostly #1 for life insurance, and I'd contend that it's likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Health insurance is squarely in bucket #3 in the US, but who knows how long that will last or where it will go from here.

N.B.: I'm a (non-credentialed) life actuary.


This is starting to be crazy. There is almost nothing you can do without having to worry about what some other party may do with your data. Walk in the street and have a video taken that's then processed and analyzed. Buy something and probably hundreds of companies will know about it.

In this particular case the insurance company should not be able to request data from the past. If they want any data they should order tests themselves and only use that data.


> This is starting to be crazy. There is almost nothing you can do without having to worry about what some other party may do with your data. Walk in the street and have a video taken that's then processed and analyzed. Buy something and probably hundreds of companies will know about it.

I'm with you on this paragraph …

> In this particular case the insurance company should not be able to request data from the past. If they want any data they should order tests themselves and only use that data.

… but you lose me here. By this logic, it seems like car-insurance companies shouldn't be able to look at my driving history, but should have to administer me a driving test themselves. This would clearly make premiums skyrocket, and I don't think is the right solution.


Exactly. There is no way to make that work without ending up with a pile of absurd results, or results that are "right" but for legally contorted reasons.

The answer (to this narrow question[1]) is to not do business with shops like 23andme, who are horrible gossips. Find a service that actually respects you and your wishes if you want a test.

Admittedly this will become harder as testing becomes part of medical care. But telling your doctor not to tell the insurance company what's going on would never fly anyway.

[1] To the broader questions of medical privacy, well, burning the private insurance industry to the ground and chumming the PBMs would be a good start.


I think the actual correct answer is to legally ban services like 23andMe, or anything like them, from talking to insurance companies. Finding a service that actually respects you is exponentially more difficult than it sounds, as that relies on all the incidents already having been found out. Before this news, most people had no idea that this was happening.

>Find a service that actually respects you and your wishes if you want a test.

If they hold onto the data for any purpose at all, then their is always the risk that they go bankrupt and ownership of the data passes to someone who doesn't respect it.


Maybe have some standardized record of relevant issues. But it can't be that you do something, pay for yourself and then have to disclose that.

On a side note I am not even sure if individualized car insurance (and health insurance) prices are worth the effort of collecting all that data. You have to build up a big bureaucracy that evaluates all the data. Maybe it's cheaper to just take a nationwide average and save money by not needing that bureaucracy?


The thing is though that JadeNB is still making a good point.

Hypothetically, if I were to give my DNA to many of these services, I'm giving it to them with full understanding that they are allowed to share that information with anyone they see fit. Well, I can't now complain that they saw fit to share it with my insurance company can I? I certainly can't complain that my insurance company was interested in getting that data. The insurance companies collect relevant historical data for every other type of insurance.

I do agree with you that your DNA should be private. And it is private, so long as you keep it private. Telling a thirdparty, especially one who is a known loudmouth, the details of your DNA is the opposite of keeping it private.


"Hypothetically, if I were to give my DNA to many of these services, I'm giving it to them with full understanding that they are allowed to share that information with anyone they see fit. "

I know legally this is ok but "sharing as they see fit" practices just need to stop. We have to go back to a model where the customer pays for a service and that's it. No sharing in the background to subsidize the cost of the service. That would make some services more expensive but then the customer can share his data for a price. If he chooses to do so .


> The thing is though that JadeNB is still making a good point.

I'm not sure that I agree with your summary of my point. In fact, I think that stronger regulations against data vendors are probably the right thing. I was merely arguing that a reflexive argument against allowing companies to gather external data might have unexpected consequences.


From The End of Asymmetric Information by Alex Tabarrok & Tyler Cowen:

The actual problems with health insurance markets have less to do with information asymmetry and adverse selection than with too much information. That can make some people’s insurance very expensive at actuarially sound rates. For instance if you have a cancer of a given kind, this is verifiable to the outside world, and if the treatment costs are $200,000, the cost of an insurance policy will in turn be about $200,000. Buying the policy won’t be cheaper than buying the treatments, and in that sense the market for insurance is not always present. That is a very real public policy problem … The cheap sequencing of the genome may accelerate and intensify these issues. …

https://www.cato-unbound.org/2015/04/06/alex-tabarrok-tyler-...


The whole point of insurance is to distribute risk. At some point, if coverage granularity becomes too high, insurance will just become pointless, right?

I think it's more subtle than that. It's also about symmetry of information. If you for example do 23&me you might find it that you have a much increased likelihood of getting a fatal disease soon. Thinking about your family's financial future you might decide to get life insurance because of this new information. Your individual risk in this case is very different from the average, you know this and that's why you are getting the insurance. This scenario if it became common also would break the insurance model because the insured pool suddenly wouldn't include people with average risk but tend towards higher risk. This would lead to higher cost for everyone who is insured. In an extreme scenario the cost might get so high that it only makes sense to get life insurance for people who know they are likely to die soon. Of course the likely scenario is less extreme, but this shows the principle nicely.

Very well put. Systematizing the algorithm, we have:

1) Get tested

2) Use the test results to determine the actuarial value of your hypothetical life insurance

3) If the price is less than the value, buy the insurance. If not, don't buy.


you could actually turn this into a business model

I don't think so, no. If I know for a fact that someone has a 40% chance of dying tomorrow, it still makes sense for me to sell them insurance valid tomorrow only, charging 40% of payout plus some margin. It also probably makes sense for them to buy it, to guarantee the higher payout for their family if they die.

There's a simple anonymity hack, unless of course your relatives "out" you. I bought my 23andme kit from Amazon, then registered on 23andme website with a fake name. I have my results, but as far as 23andme are concerned I'm John Smith.

I was going to do this, but someone said that 23andme also takes a survey of family history, health, and demographic information—which is then used for actual research. I don't want to pollute data used for scientific research!

How recently did you do this, and was there any information collection like that?


I did this a few months ago, but I'm pretty sure the survey you mentioned is optional, at least I don't remember doing it, so you don't necessarily have to "pollute data".

Sweet!

And does the kit have any sort of identifier with it? If so, I was considering some sort of 23andme kit remixing service, where people pool funds to buy a bunch of kits, and then randomly select a kit from the shipment. :-)


Just get it from Amazon, the packaging doesn't have any unique identifiers like serial number, so if you register with fake name/email on 23andme - you're totally anonymous.

By choosing to not get a DNA test at all due to privacy concerns, didn't you also pollute the data, albeit in a different way? 23andme data will vastly under-represent people with strong privacy concerns which might have a future impact, especially if scientists using this data forget to take it into account.

I'm not worried that they'll somehow fail to find the curmudgeon gene due to my inaction.

That is my biggest fear. I have to not only not opt-in myself, I have to make sure no close relations do either and that could be a lot of people.

> “If you apply for life insurance they do have a right to get all your medical records. And if you’ve had a genetic test taken, they do have a right to request it”

This data isn't something an individual has full control over. What if one of your relatives took a genetic test? If that relative was denied for a policy on genetic test grounds, can you be denied for the same reasons?


Probably, but why would anyone in your family be disclosing their genetic profile when your family knows it has these sorts of things sitting in their DNA? I mean, if you're in a family where a lot of people get certain cancers, or congenital heart defects are common - well - exercise a little common sense and forego any DNA testing that Ancestry.com offers you.

Doesn't it seem unrealistic to you to rely on your extended family members not to disclose that information? Whatever you personally believe is "common sense", your family might not have it - or they might simply disagree with you.

Nothing about this commercial[1] suggests there are privacy concerns or serious consequences when it comes to sharing DNA information with Ancestry.com.

Common sense would be wrong in this case. Common sense would say that intimately private genetic information would be protected and not shared with anyone willing to throw ten cents Ancestry.com's way, lest there be lawsuits and fines.

Often, this type of service is pitched to those with disease that runs in their family. Wouldn't you want your family member to know if they're affected so they can adequately treat disease before it becomes unmanageable?

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yfz2KJQvH-0


I think the underlying issue is real, but the headline seems inflated. Has this ever actually happened to anyone?

I recently bought life insurance and I'm pretty sure they didn't even bother to ask my primary care doctor for her records (though they had the right to), and they certainly didn't ask me about any tests I may have done on my own. (I think they did obtain at least some of my Rx history though. I assume from CVS Caremark.)

Right now I think there's kinda the opposite problem with Long Term Care insurance where people who take a genetic test that shows high risk for e.g. Alzheimer's run out and buy LTC insurance which messes up the risk pool.


They may nail you later because you didn't disclose something. I know people who have been dropped from their health insurance after years of paying because they forgot to disclose a previous injury. I should add they got dropped when they had a claim. That means the insurance happily took their money until it was time to pay up.

And this affects life insurance, so you wont be alive when they dispute your claim!

I'm pretty confident that I answered every question accurately and that no answers would have changed based on anything I could have learned from a genetic test.

Health insurers were really bad about "prior conditions" before Obamacare. I think life insurance has always been more tightly regulated.

FWIW, my policy says the insurer can only challenge the application within the first two years.


"Health insurers were really bad about "prior conditions" before Obamacare"

It's good to know that the current administration is determined to take us back to those glory days :)


> I think the underlying issue is real, but the headline seems inflated. Has this ever actually happened to anyone?

The time to guard against infringement of your rights is before it happens. Once it's happened … well, we've always done it that way; you should have spoken up before.


Genetic discrimination should probably be illegal in all forms of insurance. I think Long Term Care insurance may then become prohibitively expensive or even impossible to buy on the private market, though.

I think it might already be. A bunch of companies are realizing that Long Term Care insurance is way more expensive than they planned for: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-16/ge-to-tak.... I wouldn't be surprised if it disappears over the next decade as later-life health care costs continue to spiral upward.

Also, before you send your DNA off... Keep in mind that these companies are not legally allowed to delete your data.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-15/deleting-...


FTA: "It’s a lesson we’re destined to keep learning: Once you share something online, you can’t really ever unshare it."

Your genetic info is sort of like a trade secret in the USA, but without criminal sanctions when it's wrongfully appropriated.


Your claim contradicts both the article you linked to and the privacy policies of companies such as 23&Me and AncestryDNA per TFA.

Wasn't there a novel, like 20 years ago, about insurance company having to hide massive profits from using DNA profiling? Does anybody remember its title? It looks like real life has catched up with fiction.

Could one poison the records by sending multiple samples of different blood sources attached to the same name? So the database query would'nt be conclusive, but you would know which test is legit.

How would the ancestry testers react if I sent several samples in my name?

Will there be a market for clean blood that you can use to confuse the records and get a sort of plausible deniability of identity?


The article does obliquely reference the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), but then says it can be changed. This law was passed in 2008, for the most part before the rise of consumer ancestry tests. It seems unlikely to me that a major rollback of protections on these data is going to be easy to pass.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_Information_Nondiscrim...

Interesting, I'd like to read more commentary on this act. Anyone?


As a person who isn't old, lives below his means, and doesn't have children, I don't see the problem here. From my perspective, life insurance is nothing but a big scam. I don't anticipate dying any time soon, and if I do, I don't have any younger heirs. If I want to build wealth, I can do a lot better with index funds and mutual funds.

Honestly, I just don't see the point of life insurance at all, unless someone has a family with children and doesn't have any significant wealth accumulated.


I think most people have a very minimal amount of capital accumulated. Life insurance exists to help their family not starve if they unexpectedly die. Its opt in which totally makes sense to me. I pay for it because it costs basically nothing for me as a healthy young person and it would provide a nice windfall for my girlfriend if for example my plane fell out of the sky.

We have survivors' benefits from Social Security in the US. The logical thing to do, from my perspective, would be to make the existing government program designed to insure everyone cover people sufficiently. Given that baseline, the market for life insurance doesn't matter so much.

The upsetting thing with this whole "paying for the privilege of giving someone else your DNA" trend, is that even if you are opposed to it, relatives of yours essentially give your data too. For example, apparently, both my mother and father have already sent off their DNA to these various ancestry companies, which by extension means that I'm also in there, albeit slightly detached.

Sharing genes with other people has indeed been a source of headaches since the beginning of time (take, for example, the whole Garden of Eden fiasco). Luckily, the advantages of being inside the genetic group, like say inheritance, usually outweigh the nuisance.

I dislike this too. It's like someone licensed your IP and gave it away freely to ancestry.com. The metaphor doesn't really fit if you are the derivative child, but yeah... the insurance companies would already be able to make predictions about me.

I literally got my DNA run now because I have real concern that in the future if you ever get it sequenced you will be legally required to share it with insurance companies, law enforcement, and many others. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get grandfathered in and not share mine.

Important point from teh article that about half of the posts here seem to have missed - this is not about health insurance, but life insurance.

"while health insurers may not use or consider genetic test results when selling a policy, companies that sell life insurance, can."


Out of curiosity, how hard would it be to make an open-source, home ancestry test? Assuming that all the necessary data is there, which equipment would you need to sequence your DNA?

Start in the high 4 digits. If you're lucky.

This just makes me want to watch Gattaca again



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