Bill Bans Use Of Genetic Data By Health Insurers

By

Washington

Health insurers are criticizing a bill approved by the Senate that bans the use of genetic information in health insurance underwriting.

“Although this legislation is well intended, and the sponsors have made every effort to carefully define key terms in the bill, health insurers continue to believe it will only add unnecessary and costly regulatory burdens without, in any way, improving consumer protection,” says Donald Young, president of the Health Insurance Association of America, Washington.

Young says current federal laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, already prohibit employer-sponsored plans from using genetic information to refuse coverage or charge higher premiums.

The same law, he says, also protects purchasers of individual coverage.

Moreover, Young says, health insurers do not currently use genetic information in determining coverage or setting premiums.

“Given the existing legal protections and the rapidly evolving nature of genetic technology, we believe it is unwise for Congress to adopt any additional legislation at this time,” Young says.

The legislation, S. 1053, defines genetic information as genetic tests of an individual or family member or the occurrence of a disease or disorder in family members.

The legislation says insurance companies cannot use this information for underwriting or pricing purposes, nor can they request or purchase genetic information about an insured.

S. 1053 also prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of genetic information.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, October 17, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.