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Law urged to prevent genetic bias

  The subject line is the headline from a front-page article in last Tuesday's
  Boston Globe.
  The Massachusetts Legislature has established a Special Committee on Genetic
  Information Policy and held a series of four hearings recently. Consumer
  advocates expressed worries that genetic testing could be used in denying
  insurance coverage.  Medical representatives aired the opposite worry, that
  they would be deprived of important information that they need in a hurry if
  the results of testing were not in a centralized database.
  The new element (to me anyway) came from a representative of an life
  insurance company, who said they needed access to test results.  Otherwise,
  he said, an individual could get the results of a test, keep it secret, and
  decide to buy extra insurance.
  This claim of unfairness does not impress me at all, personally.  I don't
  make insurance decisions on a statistical basis.  I decide what my family
  would need in case of my death or disability, and buy insurance on that
  basis.  Cold statistics are used only by the insurance companies--and that
  is where the potential for abuse of testing can occur.
  The article also mentioned fears that DNA tests were not being rated for
  their effectiveness, and that companies were marketing them aggressively
  without providing honest information about their accuracy.
  Andy Oram  O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.                   andyo@ora.com
             90 Sherman Street    http://www.ora.com/people/staff/andyo/
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