Genetic testing could make it harder to get insurance

Genetic tests can help you understand your risks for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, but some insurers may use that information to deny coverage or charge you more.

If you have taken 23andMe or another genetic test, you may have inadvertently been excluded from obtaining long-term care or disability insurance, or making the coverage incredibly expensive.

Disability insurance helps cover living expenses if a person can not work due to an injury or illness, and long-term insurance pays the expenses of people who need help with everyday activities due to illness or age.

Both forms are particularly important for people with degenerative conditions, many of which are a product of defective DNA.

A law against genetic information passed in 2008 and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prevent employers and general health insurers from discriminating against people based on their DNA.

But for disability and long-term care, everything is fair game.

Genetic tests can help you understand your risks for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, but some insurers may use that information to deny coverage or charge you more.

Genetic tests can help you understand your risks for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, but some insurers may use that information to deny coverage or charge you more.

Now we can test the genes that code for more than 2,000 hereditary conditions.

Once a high-tech tool used by doctors to confirm diagnoses or by the police to catch the criminals, now anyone can send their spit for DNA sequencing for $ 150.

The widespread availability of genetic testing could revolutionize the way we approach health and mitigate our own risks, but ease of access has also undoubtedly led technology to a novelty.

Last December, medical ethicists even issued warnings that families and friends should think twice before performing a genetic test as a media filler.

The information you receive may be more traumatic than you suspected, and may even be used against you by certain insurers.

It is a phenomenon that generated widespread fear when DNA testing began to proliferate and, in response, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) became law a little more than a decade ago.

GINA "protects people from their employees or their health policies from the use of their genetic information to set their rates or exclude them from employment or coverage," explains Dr. Sheldon Krimsky.

"But policies like long-term care and disability policies do not fall under that act."

Dr. Krimsky is a professor of urban and environmental planning and policy and president of the Council for Responsible Genetics.

First, thanks to GINA, and later thanks to the pre-existing condition clause of ACA, health insurers can not refuse it if you already have an illness when you apply for coverage.

The Council also participated in the GINA discussions, advocating for the protection of patients before Congress. At some point, long-term care and disability insurance was removed from those conversations.

"Long-term care is especially important for two diseases with genetic risk factors: Parkinson's and Alzheimer's," says Dr. Krimsky.

About 7.2 million Americans have long-term care policies to ensure that they will have the care they can not care for themselves in the future.

"I think that long-term care companies would be very interested in knowing who are the most vulnerable [to those conditions] are, "says Dr. Krimsky.

As expected, 23andMe puts both conditions at the top of the list so your assessments can assess your risks.

Degenerative conditions leave millions of Americans unable to take care of themselves, which is exactly the situation that long-term insurance is designed to help relieve.

& # 39; Having a genetic condition is as preexistent as can be obtained, but in the back rooms where [Congress] I was negotiating with all the people with all the insurance companies and listening to the public … this is what we ended up with, "says Dr. Krimsky.

With that in mind, long-term insurance companies have a great opportunity to use genetic information to save money.

"There are no laws that prevent the use of genetic information for these insurance areas," says Dr. Krimsky.

"I think that if a study were done, we would see that these types of health care companies are likely to discriminate."

"If you run a company that will fund someone with long-term care, I'd prefer not to have people with those [genetic] conditions As a result, if you can use genetic information to help you become a company, why not use it? That's what capitalism is about: trying to reduce your costs and your risks. "

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