Use of genetic information
There have been rapid and stunning advances in the knowledge of how genes affect the specific tasks of different cells in the human body. The study of this interaction is known as human genetics. When human genetics and reproductive technology are combined they allow scientists to tailor make a human through the manipulation of human genes. Advances in human genetics and the application of them through reproductive technology could negatively affect society. The manipulation of human genetics and the personal information gained from reproductive technology will cause genetic discrimination based on economics. Genetic information obtained from reproductive technology might be used by insurance companies in the determining of insurance coverage. Employers could use genetic information to select employees based on genetic traits; to lower costs related to personnel. The cost of reproductive technology and genetics manipulation will perhaps make it a process for the wealthy. The insurance, hiring, and technology cost issues possibly will cause genetic prejudice due to financial matters.
One of the most contentious uses of genetic information is its potential use by insurance companies to determine whether to offer insurance and, if so, at what premium. Insurance is based on the belief of providing financial security against the risk of unanticipated events, such as bad health or disability. In return for an agreed fee, the insurance company will pay out a sum of money, or pay for services, if the unexpected event occurs. The insurance company therefore has a reasonable interest in the probability of the unexpected event occurring. Therefore insurance companies could use genetic testing to determine an individuals premium or refuse coverage based on the outcome of the test.
It is feared that those with a positive genetic test (finding a predisposition to a particular health disorder), who are obliged to reveal this information to the insurance company, will be refused insurance cover or will be charged such high premiums that in effect they are refused the opportunity to benefit (from insurance) (Human 155).
This genetic screening of an individual by an insurance company could leave that individual without insurance coverage because of the individuals genetic heritage. Refusal of insurance because of genetic testing can lead to even further prejudice.
Life assurance allows an individual to provide for his or her familys financial stability and is often the prerequisite to obtaining a mortgage. People with genetic disorders who are refused life assurance may therefore be prevented from joining the property owning community and may be unable to protect their families against future financial difficulties (Human 155).
If an insurance company declares a person a bad risk financially, because of their genetic predisposition, then that person will suffer financially than those people pass the genetic test. Therefore, because of commercial pressure an insurance company might use genetic testing to prejudice against people who they consider to have a genetic disorder.
Genetic testing might also be used by employers in the selection of staff that could avoid them unwanted human resource expenditure. This testing would be used to identify individuals whose genetic traits render them more prone to the occupational risks of a particular type of employment. Thus an employer could select those that who are not at risk.
In this way employers could reduce money spent on health and safety within the workplace and could protect themselves from the costs of increased absenteeism. Employers may also see such selection as a way of avoiding compensation to those individuals who suffer illness or disability caused by occupational hazards (Human 172).
However, it is possible that this could restrict a persons employment opportunities. The person might not be able to get the job or not be able to advance in their field, because of their genetic makeup. Employers could also use genetic testing in order to predict future health of perspective employees.
A potential employee tested positive tested positive in pre-symptomatic testing for a dominant disorder, the employer would know that the individual would be more likely to take time off work due to illness and may be unable to work to the normal retirement age. Such factors would have implications for expenditure on cover for sick leave and additional training as well as the disruption to working practices. In addition, where health