Res Publica

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 185–199

Genetic Discrimination and Health Insurance


DOI: 10.1007/s11158-015-9271-4

Cite this article as:
Lippert-Rasmussen, K. Res Publica (2015) 21: 185. doi:10.1007/s11158-015-9271-4


According to US law, insurance companies can lawfully differentiate individual health insurance premiums on the basis of non-genetic medical information, but not on the basis of genetic information. The article reviews the case for such genetic exceptionalism. First, I critically assess some standard justifications. Next, I scrutinize an argument appealing to the view that genetically based premium differentiation expresses that persons do not all merit equal concern and respect. In the final section, I argue that even if genetic exceptionalism is unjustified, there is a forceful luck egalitarian argument against basing premiums on genetic risks, to wit, that this tends to make some individuals worse off than others as a result of the bad brute luck involved in having a genetically determined, above-average risk of developing health problems.


Equal moral worth Genetic discrimination Deborah Hellman Insurance Justice Luck egalitarianism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsAarhus UniversitetAarhus CDenmark

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