A case study discusses an example of life insurance discrimination due to genetic test results for cancer predisposition.
James (pseudonym), in his early 20s, was denied full life insurance coverage because he revealed that he had discussed genetic testing with a genetic counselor. He was later tested and found to carry a mutation in the MSH6 gene; after disclosing this, he was denied cover for cancer by two other life insurance companies.
He then filed a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Dr. Louise Keogh, lead author of the case study from the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne said, "This case presents evidence that life-insurance companies have made incorrect risk-assessment judgments based on genetic information. In addition, we have previously found that the fear of such discrimination can act as a deterrent to genetic testing."
Professor Margaret Otlowski from the University of Tasmania said "This case provides evidence of the high level of initiative and proactivity required for a consumer to achieve a fair result. Few Australians would be in a position to pursue the level of research and advocacy undertaken by James (a professional with scientific training).
"It demonstrates the need for further conversation and action on the use of genetic test results by life insurance companies."
Citation: Louise A Keogh and Margaret F A Otlowski, 'Life insurance and genetic test results: a mutation carrier's fight to achieve full cover', Med J Aust 2013; 199 (5): 363-366. doi: 10.5694/mja13.10202