Sunday, October 07, 2007

More Genetic Illnesses

David Lazarus over at the LAT wrote a moving and personal column about his own struggle with inheritable Type 1 diabetes. Read Nation's healthcare crisis gets personal.
I was diagnosed this past week with diabetes. As of Friday, I was injecting myself with insulin, something I'll be doing four or five times a day, every day, for the rest of my life. Without the injections, I'll likely die.

Scared? You're damn right I'm scared. What's going to happen to me? What's going to happen to my family?
He advocates for single-payer health insurance. It is something I am beginning to favor. The gene defect I have is not rare only in countries that do have single-payer health insurance (because of their gene pool and not because of their health care delivery system). The horror stories about people not getting proper care and treatment for my particular problems occur here, and not in the countries with socialized medical care systems. As a scientist, I defer to evidence-based medicine. ;-)

Also read Now Can We Talk About Health Care? by Hilary Clinton. She talks about genetic diseases and discrimination as well.


  1. Single-payer health insurance? I haven't heard that term before.

  2. I have long argued that genetic testing was going to force the government to act on health insurance. Without major reform, there are only two options: 1. Allow insurers to treat genetic test results as pre-existing conditions and refuse insurance or charge extremely high rates to those with certain genetic markers. Not only would this be cruel (though not necessarily unfair), it would discourage people from getting genetic tests that could prolong their lives. 2. Forbid any discrimination on the basis of genetic test results, and even forbid insurers access to such information. This would be unfair to the insurers (unlike some might believe, it's actually possible), because consumers would be armed with information that is not available to the insurance companies. Those at high risk would get the gold-plated plans, while those with low genetic propensity for chronic disease might take a risk and go without insurance.

    Only a major reform, probably based on an individual health insurance mandate, can find a third way. (For the record, I still want to see something market-based).

  3. I have to disagree with Mark. In a market-based system, the insurance companies will be tripping over each other, trying to provide the WORST service to me in hopes of getting me to switch to one of their competitors.

    They don't want sick customers. They want healthy ones. Don't you remember why we had to switch out of the HMO when I first fell ill? Would I have been properly diagnosed if I stayed in the HMO? Or would I have died like my friend, K?

    Remember that the gene test was new, expensive and not universally covered by insurance carriers. Also, you might recall, they were treating the symptoms with no clue about the underlying disease. The treatments were slowly killing me. Do you recall those years at all? Where were you?


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