Aging Options

Genetic testing opens up the possibility for long-term care insurance discrimination

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A couple weeks ago on the AgingOptions Radio show Rajiv and Jerry talked about whether or not it would be a good idea to get a test done to see if you had the genes for dementia or some other disease. 

Rajiv recommended that people avoid getting the sort of tests done that would give them that information because it could be used by insurance companies and others to either deny benefits or to raise insurance rates.  This week NPR had an article about just such a discussion.

It’s against federal law to use a person’s genetic information to deny someone a job or to fire that person.  It’s also against the law for health insurers to raise rates or to deny coverage because of that genetic information.  However, as Rajiv noted, the law focuses on health insurance, it’s not against the law for instance for life, disability or long-term care insurance companies to do exactly that.  Not only can they deny coverage or raise rates but they can legally require you to get the test before selling a policy.

Rep. Louise Slaughter a Democrat from New York introduced the bill that put in place the laws we do have against genetic discrimination but the intention was always to go back and add to that law, which she plans to do.  However, she’s likely to run into a lot of resistance from the insurance industry.  Insurance counts on the fact that many people purchase insurance but few collect on it.  Genetic testing skews the balance.

Here’s the article.

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