Genetic testing should not be used by insurance companies, says privacy watchdog

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There aren’t any laws that strictly prohibit the use of discrimination resulting from these tests.

DNA genetic testing insurance industryAccording to the main privacy watchdog in Canada, the use of genetic testing by insurance companies is not justified and the group is urging insurers across the country not to begin employing those methods as a part of their risk assessment.

The rapid evolution of technology and science is making it challenging to protect privacy.

According to insurance news from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, when it comes to the advances that are being made in genetic testing science and technology, it is becoming quite challenging to be able to protect people’s privacy. These tests can be used in order to determine if an individual is at a heightened risk of certain types of medical conditions based on the data from the genome. While these tests have traditionally been limited to law enforcement and other types of lab study, more recently they have become easier to access for purposes regarding future health as well as ancestry.

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has made a call for the industry to step back from genetic testing for risk assessment.

Therrien released a statement that said “We are calling on the industry to refrain from asking for existing test results to assess insurance risk until the industry can clearly show that these tests are necessary and effective in assessing risk.” He went on to say that this would still make it possible for people to be able to undergo these tests for other reasons without having to be concerned that the results that they obtain will generate negative outcomes with regards to their premiums or future insurance applications.

There are now concerns being voiced regarding the possibility that people may decline these potentially useful tests because they are worried that it could cause them to suffer from discrimination from their employers or from the insurance industry.

A nonprofit industry group called the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association has stated that the insurance industry shouldn’t require that anyone undergo genetic testing before they make an application for a policy. However, they also feel that if there have already been tests that have been conducted, then it should be possible for an insurance company to request access to the outcomes of the tests.

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