Genetics and Insurance Discrimination: Comparative Legislative, Regulatory and Policy Developments and Canadian Options

47 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2004  

Trudo Lemmens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Abstract

Whether insurance companies should have access to genetic test results of insurance applicants and/or should be allowed to impose such testing as part of insurance underwriting remains hotly debated. In Canada, as in other countries with universal health care coverage, the debate focuses on the use of genetics in the context of life insurance and additional health insurance. This article first discusses how human rights law and insurance law provide some protection in Canada against genetic discrimination, even in the absence of specific statutes or regulations. It then highlights why the use of genetic information for private insurance contracts still raises concerns in the context of country with a universal health care system and with some legislative protection. In the second part of the article, various legal and policy options are discussed in comparative perspective. The author analyzes how different options have been implemented in other countries, in particular in Europe. The article describes the experience of these countries with: moratoria on the use of genetic information; industry self-regulation; changes to insurance law, including prohibiting the use of genetic information and setting a ceiling on insurance coverage; and changes to human rights law. The author calls in conclusion for the introduction of a more general regulatory review process for genetic testing.

Keywords: Private insurance, genetics, genetic information, insurance law, health law, human rights, comparative law, regulation

JEL Classification: K32, K12

Suggested Citation

Lemmens, Trudo, Genetics and Insurance Discrimination: Comparative Legislative, Regulatory and Policy Developments and Canadian Options. Health Law Journal, pp. 41-86, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=495404

Trudo Lemmens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

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