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Friday, October 17, 2008

Re: Insuring for hereditary diseases

Dan Sullivan wrote:
See Foldvary, "Must We Subsidize Genetic Flaws?", at     
Yes, it would be "good for the race" if  we turned our backs on the genetically defective.
That's not what Foldvary says.  He merely points out that 1) when genetic flaws are unknowable, risks are low and insurance should be affordable; 2) when genetic flaws are knowable, people with knowable flaws shouldn't expect society to subsidize their desire to pass on their problematic genes.

Yes, we are a long way from turning these "shoulds" into reality.  However, that's an odd complaint for one Georgist to lodge against another.
Do we really want to advocate that kind of social Darwinism?   
If you oppose parental responsibility for evaluating the risks of various reproductive choices, then argue against it, instead of calling it names.
The main underlying assumption the article makes is that parents would be oblivious to the tragedy of raising a genetically defective child if not for the cost of medical care.
No, it just sounds like you assume that parents would be oblivious to the tragedy of 1) not conceiving a child at all or 2) losing a child even though it faced serious quality-of-life issues.
The reality is that parents who can *afford* genetic pre-screening are very careful to avoid such tragedies, insurance or no insurance.   
Foldvary isn't saying moral hazard makes parents currently be completely careless.  He's just saying that correctly assigning insurance costs to the decision-maker (rather than to society) will make the decision-maker more optimally careful.