Genetic Adverse Selection: Evidence from Long-Term Care Insurance and Huntington Disease

Emily Oster, Ira Shoulson, Kimberly Quaid, E. Ray Dorsey

NBER Working Paper No. 15326
Issued in September 2009
NBER Program(s):The Health Care Program, The Health Economics Program, The Labor Studies Program, The Public Economics Program

Individual, personalized genetic information is increasingly available, leading to the possibility of greater adverse selection over time, particularly in individual-payer insurance markets; this selection could impact the viability of these markets. We use data on individuals at risk for Huntington disease (HD), a degenerative neurological disorder with significant effects on morbidity, to estimate adverse selection in long-term care insurance. We find strong evidence of adverse selection: individuals who carry the HD genetic mutation are up to 5 times as likely as the general population to own long-term care insurance. We use these estimates to make predictions about the future of this market as genetic information increases. We argue that even relatively limited increases in genetic information may threaten the viability of private long-term care insurance.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15326

Published: Genetic Adverse Selection: Evidence from Long-Term Care Insurance and Huntington Disease (with Ray Dorsey et al) Journal of Public Economics, December 2010. citation courtesy of

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