Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
New Law Trashes Genetic Science
June 11, 2008
Irvine, CA--It will soon be illegal for health insurers to charge higher premiums for individuals whose genes reveal a predisposition to a future disease or disorder. President Bush recently signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, which takes effect next year.
"This law tosses useful genetic science into the trash can," said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. "It requires insurers to ignore scientific evidence that would otherwise influence who gets insurance and what premium is charged. To the extent that such forced blindness to important facts results in greater payouts, everyone's premiums will rise to make up the difference.
"This is just the latest in a series of laws requiring insurance companies to ignore pre-existing conditions when making coverage and premium decisions. Such laws contradict the essential nature of insurance and violate the contractual rights of everyone involved. The product called health insurance would not exist but for the fact that serious illnesses are both unpredictable and expensive. The peace of mind that flows from adequate insurance is made possible by insurers who profit by collecting premiums from large numbers of people who will never become very ill.
"On a free market, an insurer offering to cover people who are already sick, or genetically predisposed toward a certain disease, would charge higher premiums to reflect the greater anticipated costs of treatment. But laws like this mandate a lower-than-market premium, with the difference made up by people without pre-existing conditions or significant risk factors. That difference is nothing but a forced welfare transfer from the more healthy to the less healthy.
"Under this scheme, insurance companies are transformed into ersatz government bureaus dispensing welfare benefits to the needy. Such legislation illustrates the insidious, essentially fascist process by which creeping government regulation molds insurance companies and their customers into civil servants who slavishly implement political decisions handed down from Washington, D.C. or from state capitals.
"Health care is not a right. It is a value offered for profit by physicians, hospitals, and drug companies. Likewise, health insurance is not a right but a value offered by insurers for profit. Insurers and the employers or individuals who patronize them have a right to set their own terms of trade. This includes an insurer's right to refuse coverage or charge elevated premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions or genetic indications of future disorders."
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Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his Op-Eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.
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