Monday, October 6, 2008

Mel's work on Genetic Screening

Thursday, July 26, 2007
3:11:00 AM CDT
Feeling Quiet
Hearing Let's Groove - Earth, Wind and Fire

Mel's work on Genetic Screening

You know, I sat and fussed and thought about this topic all week. This happened to be one of those subjects I felt I already knew enough about from my career in the insurance industry to be able to stand on my soapbox and let everyone know what my "educated opinion" about it was. I was all excited about the opportunity to share my knowledge with the class. I was finally going to get to be the Hermione of the group!

The thing is though, is people around here have come to the conclusion that Mel just likes to argue. The running joke here is, give Mel a topic to debate and not only will she argue with you, she'll probably run for president. Well, ok, I know how to take a joke like the best of them, but I see everyone's point too, so after arguing (yes..yes...AGAIN) with my less argumentive other half (aka da hubby) who keeps saying "just letting it go man", I decided I'd be Forest Gump in this discussion this time around and just let it rest with what I'd already said.

At this point, I'm wondering' if I need to attend some 12 step arguing anonymous meetings, cause it's now driving me insane. I just gotta put another 5 bucks in this pot and get it off my chest.

A lot of you threw in your "don't invade my privacy" quarter into this pot and kudos to you; the more we protest and drag our feet on a societal issue, the longer it takes the government to change our minds. This is the exact type of thinking that has dragged technological evolution down. We simply are not ready for the changes technology wants to present to us faster than we can acclimate to them. A quick example of this opinion is credit and debit cards. For more than 5 years this technology has been available to go paperless and use plastic as a means of quickly paying for our necessities, but we weren't ready for that. We didn't want to give up our checkbooks (and I know people that still don't want to) and the government wasn't going to make us do it. Now, you pay with cash and people look over at you like you are a cave dweller, try paying with a check, and you're older than dirt.

The most important thing you have to realize (I believe) is when you are looking at the question of who should have all of your genetic information, more importantly the reply should be, who are you and why do you want it? Now before you go getting all upset with me thinking that I agree that people should be invading your privacy, think about this:

Both of my parents are stubborn souls (gee, guess who picked up that gene), they refuse to tell anyone of any of their medical history or illnesses because in their minds it shows people around them that they are just as fragile as the next joe. So when my father's wife calls me from Oklahoma to let me know that my father has been admitted to the hospital for some "sort" of diagnostic testing, or my mother's husband calls me from Georgia to tell me that my mother has just been admitted to the hospital for a "minor" emergency knee replacement, I start to fall off the edge of the planet. It's not because I'm worried so much about if they'll make it through or not (cause I've already resolved that stubborn people live forever, and they are immortal), but I worry about what mutated genes I've passed off to my daughters.

Having access to genetic information would completely allow a physician to diagnose and treat my daughters for any diseases they may be showing symptoms to as well as those they have not but are predisposed to, regardless of what information Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Mary or Uncle Billy has divulged. Treatment plans could be well established long before the outbreak of a disease, doctors could better work together as a team to allay patient suffering and it's my hope that one day they could cure most diseases long before a person has to spend a night in a hospital bed. I don't know about your lifestyles or your particular instance of this topic, but for my peace of mind, this would bring me at least an extra 20 minutes of sleep a night.

Here's where the gift of technology becomes a curse:

Not everyone is looking out for your health and for your best interest, unless it means there is something for them to gain outta the relationship. There are a few Mother Theresa out there, but they are a dying breed in our fast paced "it's all about me" society. Information this sensitive (and yes, it is sensitive, about as sensitive as walking down the street naked) put into the wrong hands could have devastational impacts on our society as a whole as well as the economy.

I already discussed with my astute colleague John Lannan about my opinions on the insurance industry. If any of you are interested, please refer to my reply to his discussion email this week Here's the thing most of you understand about insurance companies:

The insurance industry provides protection against financial losses resulting from a variety of perils. By purchasing insurance policies, individuals and businesses can receive reimbursement for losses due to car accidents, theft of property, and fire and storm damage; medical expenses; and loss of income due to disability or death.

But surprisingly, here's something a lot of people don't know about the insurance industry:

In order to be able to compensate policyholders for their losses, insurance companies invest the money they receive in premiums, building up a portfolio of financial assets and income-producing real estate which can then be used to pay off any future claims that may be brought.

I know you are all intelligent enough to figure out where these profits go if the policyholders don't need to file claims against their policies.

If the bases for this concept sounds a lot like a stock market transaction to you, it's because it is. Stocks are bought and sold according to consumers beliefs (actually more like emotions) of the expected future supply and demand; once the crop reports are released, all bets are off. The sad thing about this is that when you trade stock based on "inside information" you loose your freedom and your franchise with K-Mart. Society has yet to establish rules of "fair game" in the field of the insurance industry other than perhaps your general equal opportunity disclaimer. You know what happens when rules aren't established; Cats and Dogs living together; mass hysteria!

As far as employers having genetic information on their employees or potential employees? Well, I guess one could look at that and say, might not be a bad idea if you are applying for any career that might have you exposing yourself to an unhealthy element that could accelerate your disease, or putting your life at risk (you obviously wouldn't want to hire someone with severe asthma to wash your 80 story building), but exactly how far would society take this knowledge? Needless to say, I believe it would set a lot of employers up to a new form of prejudice. If you put yourself in the shoes of a company owner, would you want to hire a guy with a faulty heart valve that may and or may not go out while he's clocked in? You'd have to add "genetics" into the discrimination act, but you know, as with anything, there's always those wonderful "legal loopholes" that keep the mudflaps on our rear tires.

Could you also envision getting spam emails for hiding your genetic defects from society that would probably be similar to the Viagra ones you get today?

In the end I suppose, it's far smarter to slow down this evolution until common sense "rules" come into play. In the meantime I'm wonderin'; does anyone know where the arguers anonymous meetings take place?

No comments: