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A step forward, but still inadequate: Australian health professionals’ views on the genetics and life insurance moratorium


Tiller, JM and Keogh, LA and McInerney-Leo, AM and Belcher, A and Barlow-Stewart, K and Boughtwood, T and Gleeson, P and Dowling, G and Prince, A and Bombard, Y and Joly, Y and Delatycki, M and Winship, IM and Otlowski, M and Lacaze, P, A step forward, but still inadequate: Australian health professionals' views on the genetics and life insurance moratorium, Journal of Medical Genetics Article 107989. ISSN 0022-2593 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021

DOI: doi:10.1136/jmedgenet-2021-107989


Background In 2019, the Australian life insurance industry introduced a partial moratorium (ban) limiting the use of genetic test results in life insurance underwriting. The moratorium is industry self-regulated and applies only to policies below certain financial limits (eg, $500 000 of death cover).

Methods We surveyed Australian health professionals (HPs) who discuss genetic testing with patients, to assess knowledge of the moratorium; reported patient experiences since its commencement; and HP views regarding regulation of genetic discrimination (GD) in Australia.

Results Between April and June 2020, 166 eligible HPs responded to the online survey. Of these, 86% were aware of the moratorium, but <50% had attended related training/information sessions. Only 16% answered all knowledge questions correctly, yet 69% believed they had sufficient knowledge to advise patients. Genetics HPs’ awareness and knowledge were better than non-genetics HPs’ (p<0.05). There was some reported decrease in patients delaying/declining testing after the moratorium’s introduction, however, 42% of HPs disagreed that patients were more willing to have testing post-moratorium. Although many (76%) felt the moratorium resolved some GD concerns, most (88%) still have concerns, primarily around self-regulation, financial limits and the moratorium’s temporary nature. Almost half (49%) of HPs reported being dissatisfied with the moratorium as a solution to GD. The majority (95%) felt government oversight is required, and 93% felt specific Australian legislation regarding GD is required.

Conclusion While the current Australian moratorium is considered a step forward, most HPs believe it falls short of an adequate long-term regulatory solution to GD in life insurance.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:genetics, life insurance, moratorium, genetic discrimination
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Law in context
Research Field:Medical and health law
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Law reform
UTAS Author:Otlowski, M (Professor Margaret Otlowski)
ID Code:147625
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2021-11-10
Last Modified:2021-12-08

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