Mansell, Engel & Cole

Will genetics testing affect your insurance coverage?

If you are determined to live a long, healthy life, you probably take care of yourself. You quit smoking, eat your vegetables and try to stay active. You probably have your yearly screenings, especially if certain cancers or other conditions run in your family. One thing you do not want to do is to give the insurance companies a reason to deny you coverage for life insurance or long-term care.

However, if your family history includes debilitating or progressive diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, you may want to know your chances for developing these conditions. Watching your loved ones suffer from the degenerative effects of their illness is not something you look forward to, and you want to be able to plan accordingly, including securing the appropriate insurance for your care.

Genetic testing

Recently, a gene testing company developed a test that can show you if you have a high risk for developing a number of these degenerative conditions. The company has released the test to the public, and the U.S Food and Drug Administration has approved its use. You may be eager to send your saliva sample to the 23andMe company for analysis so that you can decide whether it is in your best interest to purchase long-term care or to increase the amount of life insurance you carry.

Be aware, however, that the results of your test may affect whether an insurance company will approve your policy application. The following facts will be important to your understanding of the laws regarding genetic testing:

  • Your employer cannot require you to take a genetic test or use your test results against you.
  • The results of your genetic test will not appear on your medical records unless your doctor orders the test.
  • Health insurance companies may not ask about your genetic test results nor will they pay for you to take a genetic test.
  • 23andMe promises to keep the results of your test confidential.

With those factors in mind, you should also know that life and long-term insurance providers may require you to disclose health issues including the results of your genetic test. If your test reveals a high likelihood that you will develop Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, you may be like many who use the information to gauge the amount of insurance you will purchase. If you find that your insurance provider denies your coverage based on your genetic test results, you may wish to explore your legal options.

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