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Genetic risk scores of disease and mortality capture differences in longevity, economic behavior, and insurance outcomes

By Richard Karlsson Linner, Philipp D. Koellinger

Posted 02 Apr 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.30.20047290

Widespread genetic testing for diseases may cause adverse selection, escalating premiums, or discrimination in various insurance markets. Here, without systematically informing study participants of their genetic predisposition, we estimate to what extent genetic data are informative about differences in longevity, health expectations, and economic behavior. We compute measures of genetic liability (polygenic scores) for 27 common diseases and mortality risks in 9,272 participants of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Survival analysis suggests that the highest decile of cumulative genetic risk can distinguish a median lifespan up to 4.5 years shorter, a difference that is similar to or larger than that distinguished by conventional actuarial risk factors, including sex. Furthermore, greater genetic liability is associated with less long-term care insurance, among other economic behaviors. We conclude that the rapid developments in genetic epidemiology pose new challenges for regulating consumer genetics and insurance markets, requiring urgent attention from policymakers.

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