Insurance companies need to embrace DNA tests
“The genomics industry finally looks poised for its cell phone moment”, according to an article from wired.com (click here to read the article). Their point is that the cost of the hardware for genetic testing is falling rapidly, which means that applications are set to become part of mainstream healthcare.
The insurance industry should embrace DNA tests as it will provide data and analysis that will help to extend lifespans and ensure healthier lives, leading to less insurance claims.
However, the insurance industry is currently an impediment to more rapid take-up of DNA tests. The problem is that prior to receiving a quote for insurance, you may be required to disclose the results of any tests. If the results show a tendency towards a disease with a high fatality rate, then the quote may be prohibitively high. The implication is that it’s better to have an unknown risk than having the information which would allow you to adjust your lifestyle to reduce the risk.
In Australia in 2010, a medical insurance company offered cut-price genetic tests to 5,000 customers and the CEO had the test. However, in the fine print of the offer, it specified that future disclosure of the results may be required by life insurance companies. The Sydney Morning Herald covered the story (click here to read it).
The key issue is that it makes sense to have DNA tests from a young age. However, when you are young, you may not think about life insurance or may not be able to afford any, or at least sufficient, cover.
I propose that insurance companies should embrace DNA tests and offer a lifetime, escalating option life policy to anyone that takes a test. This policy would enable you to take out minimal cover at a young age but be assured of higher cover at a predetermined price later in life. It is most likely that parents would take the policy out for their children. This would give the insurance company a customer for life (no pun intended) and facilitate the expansion of DNA tests.