Genetic testing: it’s the crystal ball of health predictions. Are you more likely to develop cancer, Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s disease later in life? With a few strokes of a cotton swab, you can have that information. And life insurers argue they should have it, too.
Despite the poor predictive value of direct to consumer genetic tests in identifying the risk of common diseases, a possible impact on insurers of wider public access may be that privately obtained test results are used by some applicants to their benefit.
LifeHealthPro.com recently ran an article about new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) final regulations that will let insurers continue to use genetic information in underwriting long-term care insurance (LTCI), for now.
Early adopters are already putting genetic information to use, both in the medical world and in the world of underwriting. How does genetic information compare to family history or medical test results in assessing risk? In this session, we will explore some of those instances. What genes are being sequenced and what diseases or conditions are being reported on? What does the DNA tell us? We will first explore some medical and diagnostic instances, followed by some instances and applications of using this information an actuarial risk classification setting. What would a genetically relevant actuarial table look like? How should this information be interpreted? What techniques and methods make sense?
New technologies sometimes bring about new problems and concerns, which require new rules and regulations as recently demonstrated by GINA, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act in the health Insurance industry. Genetic information will soon become ubiquitous—cheap, easy to get, and informative. Should the long-standing principle of equal access to information for the purpose of life underwriting be abandoned because of the Orwellian fear of “Big Brother”? What are the myths versus the reality of genetic information? Should underwriters be banned from having access to it? And, if so, what are the industry implications of that?
This article is featured on page 26 of the September 2012 SOA Long Term Care Newsletter. Other articles in this issue include:
The Future of Genetic Testing is Now
Aspirin, Not Morphine
LTC Dashboard - Key Accessory to High-Octane Performance
Opinions and a Conversation on LTC Financing
Independent Providers: A Long-Term Care Insurance Conundrum
AGGIR, the Work of Grids
Thoughts of a Landscaper
Underwriters are viewed as the morgue of an insurance company, “the policy prevention department” as my business partner once put it. Assessing individual mortality is part science and part luck. But the advances made in genome sequence are going tip the scales greatly towards the world of science.
The 20th century witnessed steady and dramatic extensions of longevity in the United States. At the beginning of the 20th century, U.S. life expectancy was just under 50 years. By the end of the century, it had extended to almost 80 years.
In this article by Kimberly Whaley, Partner, Whaley Estate Litigation and a certified specialist in Estates and Trust Law, she considers certain estate law issues that may arise given recent scientific advances in the field of genetics and assisted reproduction, and how the courts are likely to react to these issues. (Conference for Advanced Life Underwriting)
PhD dissertation submitted in February 2010 by Fei (Billy) Yu at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Reviews studies of several diseases and examines the significance of genetic information for critical illness and life insurance.
GINA may sound like the name of a hurricane but, in fact, it is an acronym for a new federal law. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), signed into law by President George Bush on May 21, spells out what employers and group health insurance plans can and cannot do with regard to genetic information.
A genetic variation previously linked to longevity may also protect against the development of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, according to a new study. The variant affects cholesterol metabolism, boosting levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as "good" cholesterol, but it's not yet clear how it could promote healthy aging in the brain. The new findings are likely to heighten interest in finding ways to chemically enhance good cholesterol--experimental drugs that mimic the molecular effects of the genetic variant are already in clinical tests for heart disease.
This report provides Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee (CLIAC) recommendations for good laboratory practices for ensuring the quality of molecular genetic testing for heritable diseases and conditions. The recommended practices address the total testing process (including the preanalytic,analytic,and postanalytic phases),laboratory responsibilities regarding authorized persons,confidentiality of patient information,personnel competency,considerations before introducing molecular genetic testing or offering new molecular genetic tests,and the quality management system approach to molecular genetic testing. These recommendations are intended for laboratories that perform molecular genetic testing for heritable diseases and conditions and for medical and public health professionals who evaluate laboratory practices and policies to improve the quality of molecular genetic laboratory services. This report also is intended to be a resource for users of laboratory services to aid in their use of molecular genetic tests and test results in health assessment and care. Improvements in the quality and use of genetic laboratory services should improve the quality of health care and health outcomes for patients and families of patients.