Consumer Utility, Social Welfare, And Genetic Testing - A Response To 'genetic Testing An Economic And Contractarian Analysis''

Elsevier Science Bv
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal Of Health Economics, 1996, 15 (3), pp. 377 - 380
Issue Date:
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In a recent issue of this journal, Tabarrok provided an economic analysis of genetic testing (Tabarrok, 1994). As genetic research progresses, the identification of individuals at risk of particular diseases, early treatment for those affected and the avoidance of inherited genetic disorders will become more frequent. As Tabarrok states (p. 76) "this ... is accompanied by benefits and costs". His analysis then proceeds to identify the costs and benefits of genetic testing, describe the moral dilemmas and inefficiencies created by testing and propose a solution to the testing problem.The essence of his analysis is this. First, the benefits of genetic testing are improved health, which will be achieved through effective and often earlier therapy, the avoidance of additionaI risks by susceptible individuals and, through pre-pregnancy and antenatal testing, what is in effect selective breeding. Second, the cost of testing will be relatively low. Third, the individual faced with the option of testing has a small probability of a high loss as those with "'bad genes"
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