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Insurance Companies Refuse to Insure "Genetically Inferior" Customers

Thursday, April 30, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: health insurance, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Insurance companies have already begun using genetic tests as a basis for discrimination, researchers have revealed, in the first study providing conclusive evidence of genetic discrimination.

"Previous to this paper, only anecdotal reports of genetic discrimination have been available, with some commentators questioning whether or not the phenomenon actually existed," researcher Kristine Barlow-Stewart said.

Researchers from the Center for Genetics Education at Royal North Shore Hospital in Australia surveyed more than 1,000 people who had taken advantage of clinical genetic services about any experiences that might have been related to discrimination. Following up on the self-reports with their own investigations, the researchers were able to confirm 11 cases of genetic discrimination.

Yet "85 percent of the people in the study didn't know where to go to seek assistance if they had been discriminated against," Barlow-Stewart said.

Forty-two percent of the instances of discrimination related to life insurance, 22 percent were in a family context, 20 percent related to health services, 11 percent were related to social life and 5 percent concerned employment. The findings are published in the journal Genetics in Medicine.

In one case, a man with a gene believed to predispose people to breast and prostate cancer was denied insurance coverage for all forms of cancer. He was eventually able to get this decision overturned when a panel of genetic experts ruled that his exclusion was too broad.

Under current Australian law, insurance companies may only use genetics as the basis for coverage decisions if they can justify that decision.

Another case concerned two separate women with the same genetic trait who, three years apart, received different decisions from the same life insurance company. The first woman was denied any coverage, while the second was only denied coverage for breast cancer. The insurer justified these decisions by saying that scientific knowledge had progressed in the intervening years.

"But I don't believe consumers should be penalized while the insurance companies are learning," Barlow-Stewart said.

Industry guidelines say that insurers cannot require a prospective client to undergo a genetic test, but that they can demand the results of any tests already performed.

Sources for this story include: www.infowars.com.

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