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Genetic testing for life insurance targeted by Florida lawmakers

A federal law prevents health insurers from using genetic information in the underwriting process and in setting premiums. But the prohibition doesn’t apply to long-term care coverage or life insurance.
[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
Published Mar. 27, 2019
Updated Mar. 27, 2019

Amid privacy concerns and dramatic growth in genetic-testing products, Florida could ban insurance companies from using genetic information in canceling, limiting or denying life-insurance policies or long-term care coverage.

The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee voted 9-6 on Tuesday to approve a bill (House Bill 879) sponsored by Rep. Jayer Williamson, R-Pace, that would lead to a prohibition.

But several lawmakers qualified their support, saying they would like to see changes to the bill. A federal law prevents health insurers from using genetic information in the underwriting process and in setting premiums. But the prohibition doesn’t apply to long-term care coverage or life insurance.

A Senate version of Williamson’s bill (SB 258) was heard by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee this month and was approved by a narrow one-vote margin. Robert Gleeson, a physician and past medical director for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance for 27 years, said the proposed prohibition requires insurance companies to ignore important medical information about consumers.

“No other state in the union does this,” Gleeson said. Another opponent, insurance lobbyist Mark Delegal, said life-insurance policies are based on the free and open exchange of information.

As a result of that information, insurers have “one bite at the apple to estimate the risk of 30 to 40 years in the future,” Delegal said.

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