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
Date Written: January 1, 2006
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
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