Genetic testing impacts life insurance policies

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has suspended the use of predictive genetic testing until the year 2014. allowing consumers to continue taking out cover without disclosing the adverse results of tests to predict a predisposition to cancer or heart disease.

Does that mean they will discriminate us later

Did they never heard of Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) the rule signed by US prsident with the intention of that will protect Americans against discrimination based on their genetic information when it comes to health insurance and employment.

Stephen Haddrill, the ABI’s Director General, said:

“The moratorium on the use of predictive genetic test results works well for consumers. It means people can insure themselves and their families, even if they have had an adverse result from a predictive genetic test. The moratorium has proved effective since its introduction in 2001 and can now continue

The moratorium was established in 2001 and covers policies worth up to £500,000 for life insurance, £300,000 for critical illness insurance and £30,000 a year for income protection insurance. The extension leaves consumers free to apply for cover up to these levels without advising an insurance company of the adverse results of any predictive genetic test they have taken.

According to the ABI, around 3% of policies sold in the UK are above these limits and in these cases, insurers can request predictive genetic tests but only if the tests are approved by an independent Government committee.

So far, the only test that has been approved in this way is for Huntington’s disease, for life cover over £500,000.The ABI has updated its consumer guide “Insurance and genetics: what you need to know”, which can be downloaded from its website. It will commence the next review of the moratorium in 2011

Deadline for Personal Genomics Companies

State of New York has issues warning against Personal genomics companies , after they have received many complaints. Now the State of California Department of Helath (CDPH) is trying to keep consumer genetic testing companies from offering their services to the state’s residents and last week sent letters to 13 firms saying they are violating state law. The companies have time till today June 24 to respond to the notice. While New York State warned several companies that genome tests could not be performed on samples from New York residents without formal state approval.

CDPH requirements mandate that

  1. Any business offering genetic tests to California residents must be licensed as a clinical laboratory in California
  2. The laboratory must have must have a CLIA certificate for laboratory testing
  3. All genetic tests must be ordered by a licensed physician

The 3rd part of the requirements mean the end of DIY genetic testing and more headches for companies in coming weeks.

Google-backed 23andMe and Navigenics are also included in the list of companies that received the notice The major companies, including 23andMe, Navigenics, and Decode Genetics have issued statements confirming that theya re using CLIA registered laboraotries for the testing DNA genotyping. 23andMe partners with Illumina, while Navigenics collaborates with Affymetrix.

Steven Murphy compared these companies to napster check out his blog post1 post2 on this subjetcs. He is certainly not likely to be excited to learn that 23andMe has launched a wiki page called 23andWe to recruit its customers to participate in studies trying to shed additional light on genetic predispositions for certain diseases and adverse drug reactions.

23andMe has maintained that it is not selling a medical service but rather giving people access to their genetic information. They company prefers to call its 23andWe study participants “customers” and not “patients,” . Smart move but lets see if CDPH is going to buy that argument.

But today 23andMe shot back to CDPH that they’ll be doing neither cease nor desist. We believe we are in compliance with California law and are continuing to operate in California at this time,” the company said in a statement released to

The company has has argued that the testing they provide isn’t a prevention aid, but merely offers “individuals contextual information about their genetic makeup, including ancestry and applicable scientific research.”

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