Just over 60 per cent of Australians are against subsidising life insurance premiums for people who are at higher risk of future illness based on adverse genetic test results, the Financial Services Council (FSC) has found, two months after it announced a moratorium on insurers using the results of previous tests for risk products up to $500,000.
The moratorium, effective from July next year, was part of the FSC’s proposed new Life Insurance Code of Practice and followed recommendations from geneticists and this year’s Parliamentary Joint Committee inquiry into the life insurance industry.
“Our consumer research shows many Australians are open to taking a genetic test to predict the likelihood of becoming ill in future, but also support the principle of setting insurance premiums individually based on the likelihood of making a claim,” FSC senior policy manager, Nick Kirwan, said.
The research found that almost two-thirds of the 1,000 surveyed consumers would be prepared to take a genetic test that could tell if they had a higher chance of serious disease in the future, with the overwhelming majority saying they would take a test through the established medical system with a few preferring to take it anonymously even if at personal cost.
A small minority were willing to pay a little extra ($5) to subsidise people with adverse genetic testing results, but this reduced dramatically as the subsidy increased. People most opposed to offering a subsidy were respondents who were older or with lower incomes.
“Life insurers need to balance the interests of all Australians, and not just act in the interests of those who have had an adverse genetic test result. The moratorium is designed to help get this balance right,” Kirwan said.