Of genes - good and bad

Published: Tuesday 30 April 1996

PROVIDING yourself with an insurance cover may not be all that easy in the near future. Insurance companies are now looking at the prospect of genetic testing to weed out high risk people or else insisting on their payment of higher premiums. This will then allow insurance companies to compensate for 'adverse selection' - the selection of such clients who have grounds to believe they will become ill or die young.

Genetic testing recently revealed how six per cent of breast cancer cases have been-due'to the presence of two specific genes (Down To Earth, Vol 4, No 17). The detection of such genes could thus make a person a bad risk for the insurance companies who would want to deny providing insurance cover.

In the US, insurance companies are already advising people wanting to insure their lives for large sums to first undergo genetic testing. Predictions are that such a trend could also spread to the UK in a period of five years. As genetic testing, which is now in its infancy, takes off, it could bring about a radical change on how insurance policies are made.

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