Genetic Testing and Insurance Cover, Cdt 2.

Article published on 20th June 2008

According to the director of the Genetic Interest Group, Alistair Kent, many people in the UK feel that if insurers were given access to their genetic make-up they (the public) would end up having to pay higher premiums or else be denied insurance altogether as being to high risk. These claims seemed to be supported by recent statistical research.

In 2005 the respected popular-science magazine New Scientist released the results of the most extensive survey to date on concerns of possible discrimination within insurance. The research showed that 1 in 12 people who had already had some sort of genetic testing felt that the results had contributed to refusals for life insurance, as an example. Indeed, the Human Genetics Commission commissioned a Mori poll that revealed that only 8% of people were entirely comfortable with the idea of insurance companies having results from genetic tests they have undertaken.

That said, Mr Kent doesn't think the UK should follow the USA and legislate against the insurance industry accessing these results, believing that the moratorium and reviewing process has been working very well thus far, a sentiment echoed by many within the insurance sector.

Jonathan French, a spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers, has also stated that his belief that the moratorium has not had a negative effect on the industry and need not be lifted, saying that the industry is "very content with the moratorium as it is". He went on to say that he expects that the moratorium will be extended after its review has concluded.

In terms of legislation, then, it seems that the attitude has been "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

In fact, as Mr Kent has said: "Denying insurers access to genetic test results hasn't led to the collapse of the insurance industry or a huge upset in terms of premium prices or anything like that."

"I don't think there is an overwhelming pressure to change the status quo."


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