Playing the Odds

Health insurers want to know what's in your DNA

The dark side of genetic testing is that information affecting your future health is as valuable to insurers as it is to doctors, but for very different--and disturbing--reasons. Knowing that you are susceptible to breast cancer or diabetes would be invaluable to an HMO looking for ways to screen out riskier candidates and thus keep costs down--and profits up.

Insurers say it won't happen. More than 30 states have passed laws prohibiting genetic tests of applicants for jobs or insurance, according to the Council for Responsible Genetics. At least 70 more genetic-discrimination bills are pending in 24 states. Twelve are before...

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