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Should genetic information be disclosed to insurers? No

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 07 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1197
  1. Richard Ashcroft, professor of biomedical ethics
  1. Queen Mary, University of London, Institute of Health Sciences Education, London E1 2AT
  1. r.ashcroft{at}

    UK insurers have said that they may seek approval to use the results of genetic tests for cancer from next year. Søren Holm believes they should have to pass the results on to insurance companies, but Richard Ashcroft argues that the risks of disclosure justify privacy in most cases

    A strong case can be made for requiring people who have had genetic tests to disclose that fact to insurers when they purchase life, critical illness, or health insurance policies. There are essentially three arguments for this position: that genetic information is not essentially different from other kinds of health information, that non-compulsory insurance depends on full and truthful disclosure by the applicant to protect the integrity of insurance underwriting and risk pooling, and that because insurance is a private arrangement between freely contracting parties, each party is entitled to set the terms of the contract in negotiation.

    I would accept all of this. Indeed, it is the consensus in both the academic and the policy …

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