Time to End the Use of Genetic Test Results in Life Insurance Underwriting

12 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2018 Last revised: 26 Jul 2018

See all articles by Mark A. Rothstein

Mark A. Rothstein

University of Louisville - Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy, and Law; University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2018

Abstract

The decreasing cost of genome and exome sequencing, including direct-to-consumer testing, produces information asymmetry between applicants and life insurance companies, which increases the risk of adverse selection. Rather than requiring applicants for life insurance to undergo genetic testing, life insurers ought to revise their policies and not use the results of genetic tests in the medical records of applicants for underwriting. Prohibitions on access to genetic test results already have been adopted without great upheaval in several other countries. There are two main reasons why this new approach should be used in the United States. First, genetic test results do not provide essential information that is not already available through traditional underwriting measures. Second, because many individuals at genetically increased risk of serious disorders currently decline testing out of fear of the economic consequences, policies prohibiting the use of genetic test results in life insurance will encourage genetic testing and facilitate timely surveillance and necessary medical intervention, thereby saving lives.

Keywords: Adverse Selection, Genetic Discrimination, Genetic Testing, Life Insurance, Medical Underwriting

JEL Classification: K31, K32

Suggested Citation

Rothstein, Mark A., Time to End the Use of Genetic Test Results in Life Insurance Underwriting (August 1, 2018). Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3152572

Mark A. Rothstein (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy, and Law ( email )

Louisville, KY 40202
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.louisville.edu/bioethics

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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