Discrimination in Insurance: Experience in the United States


Health and life insurers may wish to discriminate based on genetic information by classifying people as high risk or unhealthy based on genetic tests that predict future health problems, rather than on diagnosis of current illness. In the USA, the fear of genetic discrimination by insurers is much greater than the reality, especially for health insurance. The economics of health insurance makes it unlikely that health insurers will want to consider purely predictive genetic information, and there are ample legal threats to keep this possibility from materializing, including the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Empirical studies consistently document the virtual absence of any genetic discrimination by health insurers. Life insurers are more likely to consider results from predictive genetic tests, but this practice currently is not widespread.

Keywords: genetic discrimination; health insurance; life insurance


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Hall, Mark A(Mar 2009) Discrimination in Insurance: Experience in the United States. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005208.pub2]