Moratorium on Predictive Genetic Testing Extended

Article published on 23rd June 2008

Just to lay any ghosts to rest from the previous few articles, the Association of British Insurers has extended the 2001 moratorium that prevents insurers using the results of predictive genetic tests to decide whether or not to grant life assurance, critical illness insurance or even health insurance, or indeed to use such tests to establish a higher premium for such policies.

The next review of the moratorium will take place in 2014. This should be viewed as an acceptable length of time if only because of the speed at which medical science and technologies advance. There may be cures and treatments available in 6 years that are not available now in 2008, or likewise, whereas predictive genetic testing is as yet still a question of percentages, in 6 years there may be more ways of refining those percentages to an increasing level of certainty - such as is currently the case with Huntingdon's Disease.

So if a test could reveal a certainty of someone developing breast cancer (say) rather than a proposed 60% likelihood, then this might be a fairer reason to review specific insurance allowances to that person. This falls into very similar ground as the moral reasoning surrounding the availability and types of life assurance and critical illness insurance for the elderly.

More importantly, if we could say definitively whether someone will certainly contract a particular critical illness later in life it could possibly lead to a drop in the actual appearance in those illnesses because we would know exactly what to look out for and when.

Granted, such technology as this may still be beyond medical science in another 6 years, but the principle is, generally speaking, a good one.

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