Consultation Opens on Use of Genetic Testing in Life Insurance

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Original media release by the Hon Stephen Jones MP, Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, and the Hon Josh Burns MP (27/11/2023).

Today, the Albanese government opened consultation to consider options addressing the use of genetic testing by life insurers.

Currently, the Disability Discrimination Act provides an exemption for life insurers to use genomic or genetic test results when underwriting life insurance contracts. Since 2019, an industry-regulated partial-moratorium has been in place that prohibits the use of these tests below certain financial limits.

However, the government is aware of community concerns that people are being dissuaded from taking genetic tests for fear of discrimination in accessing life insurance. A Monash University report, A?GLIMMER, was published earlier this year and raised several concerns with the moratorium and called for government intervention.

The Albanese government recognises the importance of genetic and genomic health technologies. They are reshaping clinical practice and changing the way medical practitioners prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor a range of heritable conditions, cancer predisposition syndromes and cancers.  

That is why the Albanese Government is releasing a consultation paper considering options to regulate the use of genetic testing results in life insurance underwriting.

The options outlined in this paper aim to ensure that consumers can continue to access affordable life insurance, while maximising the significant health benefits provided by genetic testing.

The government encourages all interested parties to make a submission in response to the consultation paper, which can be found on the Treasury website.

The consultation process and any comments received in relation to this paper will help inform the development of future policy in this area.

Submissions will close on 31 January 2024.

The consultation paper is available on the Treasury website.

Quotes attributable to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones:

“Australians should not be dissuaded from potentially life-saving genetic testing, out of fear of discrimination in life insurance products.

“When Australians think about preventative health, they shouldn’t have to think about their hip pocket.

“So many people across academia, industry and the parliament have worked to bring attention to this issue, and we absolutely need to look into it.”

Quotes attributable to the Hon Josh Burns MP:

“I welcome this consultation and thank the Minister for his leadership.

“Genetic testing is particularly important for members of the Jewish community, who are at higher risk of certain health conditions. Strong protections against discrimination on the basis of genetic results will give my community greater confidence in getting genetic testing and the healthcare they need.”