Life Insurance Ramifications of DNA Sequencing

With the advent of affordable DNA sequencing, nearly one million Americans have had their DNA tested.  Yet from a life insurance standpoint, the consequences of such a decision remain unclear.  The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) passed in 2008 specifically excluded life, disability, and long-term care insurance from its protections.  As a result, many patients concerned about inherited diseases are cautious that their DNA results could be used against them by insurance companies.

To date, at least one insurer, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, has begun to ask potential customers whether they underwent genetic testing, noting that a failure to disclose results could have an adverse impact on the application.  Whether this trend continues is unknown, however it remains a possibility insurers are considering.