MoneyWise Live


Gene Kits and Insurance

September 4, 2018

Have you tried one of those direct-to-consumer gene testing kits yet? They reveal your genetic make-up— like 45% Scandinavian or 20% Asian. But they may also reveal some things you’d rather were kept secret.  It turns out home gene testing kits can become an obstacle to getting certain types of insurance. Rob West talks about that on this edition of MoneyWise Live.

2017 was a huge year for the companies selling home gene kits. They doubled the total number sold to date - something north of 12 million kits.
That means 1 in 25 US adults now have access to their genetic make-up but unfortunately it also means some insurance companies can get that information too.

Aren't health insurance companies prohibited from using that information against us?

  • Health insurance companies are prohibited under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 from using home gene kit data to decide whether they’ll insure you or how much to charge you in premiums.  Unfortunately, Congress neglected to include companies that sell other types of insurance including life, long term care and disability insurance in that law so that left a huge loophole.

Who’s likely to have a problem with this when applying for long term care insurance and the like?

  • In theory at least, people whose data might now or in the future reveal genetic markers for hereditary disorders

If you buy a kit and discover that you're 1/2 Irish and a 1/4 Native American. That doesn’t mean I have to share whatever the test reveals to insurance companies, does it?

  • Yes it does. When you apply for long term care, term life and disability insurance, you’re required to answer medically related questions truthfully or risk the policy being canceled at some point.


Next, Rob and Steve answer some listener questions at 800-525-7000 or via email at Questions@MoneyWiseLive.org:

  • Should you reveal how to your children how much money you make or have?
  • If you've heard good and bad things about annuities, what should you do with some money you've recently been blessed with?
  • What are your thoughts on IUL (Index Universal Life) insurance?
  • What is the equation for calculating retirement figures?
  • What are the guidelines for getting life insurance?

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