Thursday, August 30, 2007

Genetic Discrimination in Denying Health Benefits

Hsien-Hsien Lei of Eye on DNA links to an article in the Los Angeles Times [U.S. military practices genetic discrimination in denying benefits].

The issue concerns a Marine who was discharged without medical benefits because he was found to have a genetic disease—in this case it was Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome.

Apparently the US military doesn't take responsibility for soldiers who develop medical problems as a result of a genetic pre-disposition.
The regulation appears to have stemmed from an effort to protect the armed services from becoming a magnet for people who knew they would come down with costly genetic illnesses, according to Dr. Mark Nunes, who headed the Air Force Genetics Center's DNA diagnostic laboratory at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.
As you might expect, the lawyers got involved and some of these men and women have won some compensation from the US government. But some lost their case and they face bankruptcy.

Only in America.

There's a simple solution to all these disputes about health coverage and your genes. It's called universal health care. Try it. You'll like it. (Unless you're a lawyer.)

[Photo Credit: The photograph shows Dr. Mark Nunes (center) with Jay Platt, a former US Marine Corps drill instructor (left) and Susannah Baruch, senior policy analyst at the Genetics and Public Policy Center (right). The panelists are discussing Genes in Uniform: Don't Test, Don't Tell.]


  1. (Unless you're a lawyer.)

    Or a useless, overpaid parasite of a health insurance executive.

  2. The U. S. military has this sort of system: if someone gets a medical condition that won't allow them to continue to serve (e. g., wounded in battle, by an accident, or just plain sick), they are discharged.

    The conditions of discharge are:
    1) Condition didn't exist prior to entry (e. g., someone loses a leg in battle)

    2) Condition was aggravated by military service (e. g., someone with poor eyesight is made even blinder by a chemical accident)

    3) Condition existed prior to entry.

    In conditions 1 and 2, the person is covered medically for that condition, (to a point) by the Veterans Administration.

    In condition 3, the person is not covered.

    Now, of course, since this administration vowed to try to run things "like a business", the medical boards have gotten more ruthless in their determination of class of disability (example: attempting to deny combat veterans coverage for post traumatic stress disorder conditions IF they had some sort of mental health issue going in).

    In the past, they were more understanding.

  3. IAAL in the U.S., and to me letting poor/uninsured people remain ill or injured is as close to a secular sin as it gets.

    So please paint with a just slightly narrower brush if you would.


  4. I like universal health care (preferably free at the point of delivery); I'm a lawyer.

  5. Robin Levitt says,

    I like universal health care (preferably free at the point of delivery); I'm a lawyer.

    Yeah, but you're a government lawyer. Those kind don't count in America.

  6. Larry said:

    Yeah, but you're a government lawyer.

    Not at present I'm not...