Policy ForumHuman Genetics

A Rational View of Insurance and Genetic Discrimination

Science  12 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5579, pp. 195-196
DOI: 10.1126/science.1070987

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The Human Genome Project has committed a portion of its annual budget to the study of the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of genetics research. The assertion that discrimination in health insurance is a real problem pervades the ELSI literature despite compelling evidence that at worst the threat is theoretical. The author reviews this evidence and also argues that genetic discrimination in the area of life insurance is unlikely to become a significant social problem. He contends that by perpetuating unsubstantiated fears, many connected with the ELSI program have inappropriately engaged in advocacy at the expense of science.