At the end of 2018, over 26 million people in the United States had used voluntary services to obtain their DNA test results. It is estimated that by the end of 2020 it will be 100 million people. Almost a third of the population!
The spread of companies selling genetic home kits allows consumers to gain insights about their genetic risks for certain ailments. But the accuracy of many over-the-counter tests has come under scrutiny.
Federal law prevents health insurers from refusing medical coverage to Americans with congenital health conditions. And it prohibits them from accessing a patient’s DNA test results. There is a loophole that exists that doesn’t cover life, disability, and long term care insurers.
Closing The Loophole
Florida State Rep. Chris Sprowls and State Sen. Kelli Stargel have introduced bills to close that loophole! The bills (HB 1189/SB 1564) would prevent life, disability, and long-term care insurers from canceling, limiting or denying coverage or charging different premiums for Florida customers based on information gathered exclusively from personal genetic information and not through a doctor’s diagnosis. The bill also prohibits insurers from asking or compelling a consumer for genetic information.
“Insurance is about spreading risk, not guaranteeing the outcomes or rewards to the characters,” Rep. Sprowls said. “And affordable life, disability, and health insurance should not be available simply to the genetic elite.”
A group backing the bills, Protecting Our DNA, launched a minute-long ad Thursday saying it would protect Floridians’ DNA, privacy and insurance plans. The group is sponsored by a political committee chaired by Sprowls.
Insurance Industry View
The insurance companies oppose both bills. They believe that someone who wouldn’t otherwise purchase coverage may discover a risk, and then buy a policy to protect themselves. And charging people predisposed to health problems the average rate raises everyone’s price of coverage. That could increase their losses resulting in increased premiums for consumers.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) regulates insurers including life, health, and long-term care insurers.