Genes and Insurance: Ethical, Legal, and Economic Issues

Genes and Insurance: Ethical, Legal, and Economic Issues

Genes and Insurance: Ethical, Legal, and Economic Issues

Genes and Insurance: Ethical, Legal, and Economic Issues


The authors of this study emphasize the effectiveness of collectively funded public insurances as opposed to genetic information regulation within the private insurance sector. Genetics has provided tools to determine individuals' risk of future disease, which is of key interest for insurance companies in determining insurance premiums; but persons with high enough risk may remain uninsured. For this reason, genetic information has been regulated. But, regulation may not be the solution, according to the authors, and they call for the resumption of social insurance, a key element of the welfare state.


The ideas contained in this book matured gradually over a period of some two years at the end of the 1990s in discussions between Marcus Radetzki and Marian Radetzki. Aminor grant from the Trygg Hansa Research Foundation early in 2000 made it possible to start work in a small way. The result was a paper in Swedish, 'Genetic Knowledge and Insurance', by Marcus Radetzki, published in Nordisk Försäkringstidskrift (Scandinavian Insurance Quarterly) in 2001. The paper provides an overview of the subject area, and constituted a starting point for the present work. At a later stage during preparations, Niklas Juth was associated with the team, with the special task of covering the ethical aspects arising from the issues under investigation.

Work on the book was undertaken during the period September 2001– September 2002, with Studieförbundet Näringsliv och Samhälle (SNS – a Swedish think tank) as an administrative base, and a Swedish edition was published by SNS during 2002.

The manuscript is the result of close collaboration between the authors, but the work has been divided according to the authors' areas of competence. Chapters 1 and 8 have been jointly written by Marcus Radetzki and Marian Radetzki. Niklas Juth carried the main responsibility for chapters 2 and 7 and Marcus Radetzki for chapters 3 and 6, while Marian Radetzki wrote chapters 4 and 5.

While the responsibility for remaining weaknesses and errors rests entirely with the authors, we wish to acknowledge and thank for their valuable and highly constructive comments on earlier versions of the manuscript Göran Flood (insurance specialist), Christian Munthe (philosopher) and Jan Wahlström (geneticist), and three anonymous referees appointed by Cambridge University Press. Teresa Bjelkhagen and Timothy Chamberlain have provided valuable help in making sense of the English language, not our mother tongue. Generous grants from ELSA, the Swedish research programme, from Sven and Dagmar Salén's Research Foundation and from Swedish Ethics in Health Care have been . . .

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