Technological innovation quite often results in far reaching changes within the matrix of society which forms a meaningful base for individuals or groups. Technological implementations often lead to a practice where the individual is burdened with the incurred costs. These costs, however, are not necessarily of a financial nature but range from difficulties in the assessment and the decision making process, responsibility in areas of high risk behaviour, to stigmatisation and discrimination.
A number of methods, especially diagnostic techniques based on molecular genetics, have been developed among others under the collective name of genetic engineering. Their development heralds a promise which is directed at two of the most fundamental aspects of human existence: health and security. Certainty with regards to health status and the elimination of illness and suffering minimalised risk is promised, thus suggesting the engineering of health and with it creating an illusion of far reaching control of life.
Innovations in genetic engineering indicate new ways for its application. The innovations therefore set new genetic standards and create a shift in the medical definition of health and illness. New illnesses are continuously diagnosed and an increasing number of people no longer comply with the "new norms". The "normal" turns into a deviation and those who were classed as "healthy" are now classified as "so-far-without-illness". The subsequent genetic deviation of health-norms may not only result in considerable problems for the individual but also affect society as a whole. Genetic know-how will be of importance to health and social politics when technical developments lead to the implementation of technology, thus posing the question of whether there is a need for legal empowerment within society.
At the same time covetousness is stimulated among those interest groups who deal with the economic aspects of health care. These are, apart from producers and distributors of tests and medics from various disciplines, primarily health insurance companies.
The following discourse focuses on the question of how the development of genetic engineering is received by the German insurance companies.
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