Genetic Testing and Private Insurance – A Case of “Selling One’s Body”?


Arguments against the possible use of genetic test results in private health and life insurance predominantly refer to the problem of certain gene carriers failing to obtain affordable insurance cover. However, some moral intuitions speaking against this practice seem to be more fundamental than mere concerns about adverse distributional effects. In their perspective, the central ethical problem is not that some people might fail to get insurance cover because of their ‘bad genes’, but rather that some people would manage to get insurance cover because of their ‘good genes’. This paper tries to highlight the ethical background of these intuitions. Their guiding idea appears to be that, by pointing to his favourable test results, a customer might make an attempt to ‘sell his body’. The rationale of this concept is developed and its applicability to the case at issue is critically investigated. The aim is to clarify an essential objection against the use of genetic information in private insurance which has not yet been openly addressed in the academic debate of the topic.

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Correspondence to D. Hübner.

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Hübner, D. Genetic Testing and Private Insurance – A Case of “Selling One’s Body”?. Med Health Care Philos 9, 43–55 (2006).

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  • genetic testing
  • justice
  • private insurance
  • selling one’s body
  • virtue