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Winter 2018  Volume 11, Number 4        

The Surprising Penalties of Genetic Testing

Personal DNA testing kits are all the rage.

The kits are relatively affordable; it's easy to collect a saliva sample; and the results are available in two months or less. Mental Floss reports that more than 12 million people had their DNA tested and that number is expected to grow substantially.

It's fun to discover your ancestry and it's helpful to learn about your hereditary traits or genetic health risks. You might even find relatives you didn't know you had. However, would you be as excited about genetic testing if you knew the results might affect your ability to be approved for certain types of insurance coverage or could increase your premiums?

Long-term, life and disability insurers have the right to evaluate whether an individual would be a good insurance risk. The process is called underwriting, and an underwriter has the right to review your medical records, ask you questions about you and your family’s health history and use genetic test results to decide whether to offer you coverage.

However, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 does not allow health insurers to use genetic information to determine whether to give you coverage or to set rates. On the other hand, long-term-care policies, life insurance and disability insurance are exempt from GINA.

The GINA regulations require that you reveal genetic test results to these insurers, even if the testing was performed through a direct-to-consumer site.

Though most states follow federal rules, some states have genetic testing laws that protect consumers seeking long-term care policies.

Also, if you get a test done after you purchase a policy, the insurer cannot cancel your coverage or change your rates. Therefore, you might want to put off finding out about your ancestry until after you purchase the long-term coverage you need.


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In this issue:

This Just In...

Keeping Up with Medicare Changes

Individual ACA Rates are Going Up, Up, Up — Here's Why

Q&A: How to Add an Indexed Universal Life Policy to Your Retirement Portfolio

The Surprising Penalties of Genetic Testing


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