Canadian Insurance Companies Can Legally Practice 'Genetic Discrimination'


tay
#1
Right now, in Canada, there's a battle going on for its citizens' genes, as health insurance companies are using genome sequencing to assess risk (external - login to view) (read: increase rates) for patients who are predisposed to certain diseases.


The country's privacy commissioner issued a policy statement last week saying that the government would really appreciate if health insurance companies left genetic testing out of whatever actuarial algorithms they're using, but hasn't banned the practice outright (external - login to view).
While Canada has universal health care that's highly subsidized by (and often free for consumers), there are still plenty of private insurers.


And, right now, the country's health insurance industry has instituted a voluntary moratorium on asking people to specifically undergo genetic testing when they apply for coverage. But that doesn't mean it never happens—it just happens in a different way. If a person has already undergone genetic testing in the past, insurance companies will regularly request that data from a prospective client's doctors.


"If genetic testing has been done and the information is available to the applicant for insurance and/or the applicant’s physician, the insurer would request access to that information just as it would for other aspects of the applicant’s health history," the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association stated as its official policy on the issue (external - login to view).


The practice sets a pretty scary precedent that some have worried about for years (external - login to view)—what happens when and if a baby is genetically tested at birth and is determined to be a risky investment for an insurance company? Some countries, including the United States have (sort of) already banned the practice, but there's still no law against it in Canada.


“Some of these tests—as time goes on, and now—are important indicators with respect to risk,” Frank Zinatelli, a lawyer with the CLHIA, told Canada's Globe and Mail. “So yes, we feel it’s important to be able to have access to those types of information.”


Meanwhile, a bill that would actually ban genetic discrimination has been sitting in Canadian parliament since October (external - login to view), with little indication that it's going to move forward.




Canadian Insurance Companies Can Legally Practice 'Genetic Discrimination' | Motherboard (external - login to view)
 
Walter
#2
Actuaries know what they are doing; it's "science".
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
#3
well, we had to know this was coming, it's business as usual, just more tools now to screw us out of our money
 

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