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Genetics and Insurance in Australia: Concerns around a Self-Regulated Industry

Authors
  • Newson, Ainsley J.
  • Tiller, Jane
  • Keogh, Louise A.
  • Otlowski, Margaret
  • Lacaze, Paul
Type
Published Article
Journal
Public Health Genomics
Publisher
S. Karger AG
Publication Date
Oct 26, 2017
Volume
20
Issue
4
Pages
247–256
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1159/000481450
PMID: 29069661
Source
Karger
Keywords
License
Green
External links

Abstract

Background: Regulating the use of genetic information in insurance is an issue of ongoing international debate. In Australia, providers of life and other mutually rated insurance products can request applicants to disclose all results from any genetic test. Insurers can then use this information to adjust premiums and make policy decisions. The Australian Financial Services Council (FSC; an industry body) developed and maintains the relevant industry standard, which was updated in late 2016. Aims/Objective: To review the 2016 FSC Standard in light of relevant research and determine the legitimacy of the Australian regulatory environment regarding use of genetic information by insurers. Results: We identified five concerns arising from the 2016 FSC Standard: (1) use of results obtained from research; (2) the requirement for an applicant to disclose whether they are “considering” a genetic test; (3) failure to account for genome sequencing and other technology developments; (4) limited evidence regarding adverse selection; and (5) the inappropriateness of industry self-regulation. Conclusion: Industry self-regulation of the use of genetic information by life insurers, combined with a lack of government oversight, is inappropriate and threatens to impede the progress of genomic medicine in Australia. At this critical time, Australia requires closer government oversight of the use of genetic information in insurance.

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