Does Genetic Testing Affect the Insurance Industry?
As genetic testing technology becomes more readily accessible to consumers, the insurance industry faces a controversial crisis. Genetic testing reveals information about the body that determines whether individuals are susceptible to certain diseases. Consumers who adhere to this test can use the results to obtain insurance coverage that may favor them in the future. Insurers are currently not allowed to obtain genetic testing profiles of prospective insurance applicants due to the possibility of insurance discrimination.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prohibits insurers from denying consumers health insurance coverage due to adverse results from genetic testing. However, this law does not apply to life insurance, disability insurance or long-term care insurance coverage (LTCI). This gives insurers the legal right to refuse these policies to individuals whose genetic testing reveals they are prone to genetic diseases. Naturally, this makes consumers leery of having to disclose this information upon applying for this coverage.
The insurance industry claims genetic testing information is needed to establish fair premium prices and reduce the financial risk of negative selection. Consumers fear they will be discriminated against if insurers are allowed this information. Until there is proper balance to genetic testing and insurance issues, the debate will undoubtedly continue.