“For most insurance companies, the message on genetic testing is: Dont order genetic tests, even if you know theyre available.”
That is the trend today, said Charlotte A. Lee, M.D., of Osborn Laboratories, Olathe, Kansas, in a seminar here on genetic testing in the insurance industry.
There is no official document saying that insurers voluntarily agree not to test, the doctor stressed, explaining that anti-trust issues may prohibit such agreements.
Still, she said, most do avoid asking for the tests.
However, she added, if an applicants attending physicians statement indicates a genetic test has been run on the person, insurance companies do want to see those test results. Insurers need to have access to all information applicants have, in order to avoid anti-selection, she said.
Her remarks came during a packed session at the annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies.
The public today dislikes the process of risk classification in general, Lee said, and one reason for this dislike may be the public doesnt understand what it is that actuaries do. This may prompt some to wonder, “are the rate classes based on sound studies?”
Furthermore, some people believe underwriters make mistakes. “They dont know that underwriters have manuals they consult, and that the companies have medical directors and registered nurses on staff,” Lee said.
Some also believe applicants are being set up by “purposely misleading” application questions, and/or they feel the risk classification process violates privacy, she said.
Others complain the risk classification process discourages good medical care, she said. “They contend people wont go to the doctor, due to worries the information will go to the insurance company.”