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24 J. Consumer Pol'y 1 (2001)

handle is hein.journals/jrncpy24 and id is 1 raw text is: Robert B. Nielsen, Cathleen D. Zick,
Robert N. Mayer, and Ken R. Smith
Genetic Testing and the Demand for
Cancer Insurance
ABSTRACT. There has been an expansion of the availability of disease-specific insur-
ance policies in the United States over the past decade. At the same time, recently
developed medical tests are providing consumers with new information regarding their
risk of contracting particularly serious diseases. This exploratory study makes use of
data from two groups of women to examine the demand for one type of disease-specific
policy, cancer insurance. Members of the first group have been tested for a BRCA1
gene mutation that is associated with an 88% risk of contracting breast and/or ovarian
cancer by age 70. The other group consists of women from the general population
who have not been tested for any BRCA1 gene mutation.
The study results indicate that women who have been tested for the BRCA1 gene
mutation are more likely than untested respondents to have purchased cancer insur-
ance and to have recently thought about purchasing cancer insurance. The results
also indicate that older women and women who have modest household incomes are
more likely to have purchased cancer insurance. Women who have minor children,
who are more highly educated, who have no health insurance, who have had cancer,
or who report that they are in poor health are more likely to have recently contem-
plated purchasing cancer insurance. Our discussion of the findings highlights several
issues that merit further consideration on the part of consumer policy makers working
in the area of insurance regulation.
There have been a number of changes in health-related insurance
markets in the United States during the past ten years. In particular,
insurers have enriched the benefits associated with disease-specific
policies (e.g., cancer insurance) and the regulation of such policies has
been eased in a number of states (Cancer insurance is back, 1999).1
Some states still have reservations about cancer insurance. New Jersey
does not permit the sale of cancer insurance, and several other states
have recently examined their laws regarding its availability. As a result,
California no longer allows consumers over age 65 to purchase cancer
insurance policies, and Arizona now requires consumers 65 and older
to sign a form acknowledging that the insurance may duplicate existing
Medicare coverage. Other states, including Massachusetts, Wisconsin,
and Ohio, have expressed concern about cancer insurance policies and
cautioned consumers to examine the terms of the policies carefully
Journal of Consumer Policy 24: 1-21, 2001.
© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

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