Insurance and Genetics: Regulating A Private Market in the Public Interest

Michela Betta (ed), The Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and Screening. The Australian Case, 125–164, 2006

39 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2016

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David Weisbrot

Independent

Brian Opeskin

University of Technology Sydney

Date Written: January 1, 2006

Abstract

In 2003 the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) completed an extensive national inquiry into the use and protection of human genetic information. One issue that attracted widespread public concern was the potential misuse of information from genetic testing in underwriting policies for insurance. The concerns related to the refusal of insurance coverage, denial of requested increases to pre-existing coverage, and loading of premiums across several types of insurance -- life insurance, income protection insurance, trauma insurance, superannuation, and health insurance. This chapter examines the context to the inquiry, the present use of genetic information by the Australian insurance industry, and the impact of privacy and discrimination laws on industry practices. The ALRC concluded that 'genetic exceptionalism' (e.g. banning the use of genetic information in underwriting) was not warranted. However, there are a number of consumer oriented policies and practices that should be adopted in the insurance industry to ensure that the use of genetic information is appropriate and adapted, in light of risks to privacy and discrimination.

Keywords: genetic testing, insurance, underwriting, discrimination, privacy, life insurance, premiums, genetic information, disorders

Suggested Citation

Weisbrot, David and Opeskin, Brian, Insurance and Genetics: Regulating A Private Market in the Public Interest (January 1, 2006). Michela Betta (ed), The Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and Screening. The Australian Case, 125–164, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2848583

David Weisbrot

Independent

Brian Opeskin (Contact Author)

University of Technology Sydney ( email )

Faculty of Law
University of Technology Sydney
Sydney, New South Wales 2007
Australia
+61-2-95149670 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uts.edu.au/staff/brian.opeskin

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