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Health insurance in the future would depend on genetic test results

Breast cancer is the second-biggest killer of women in UK. The recent reports that many women will be barred from buying life assurance if they take a genetic breast cancer test caused a lot of commotion among them. //

Statistics show that about 40,000 diagnoses are done each year and 13,000 deaths are expected. But recently the Association of British Insurers assured women that insurers would not ask for women to take genetic breast cancer tests.

But it was also said that a Genetics and Insurance Committee will be launched in two years.

Nick Kirwan, protection marketing director at Scottish Widows, said that there is a necessity for a proper and rational debate about this subject and also said that it is essential that one has to be careful in gathering the necessary information. In the previous days few health questions were asked of those applying for straightforward term or mortgage protection insurance. But all this changed when AIDS came into the scenario the industry began introducing detailed health and lifestyle questionnaires. Hence this led to the development of genetics, the insurers wanted to know more about the cause of death of our parents and our siblings.

Legal & General's protection development manager Roger Wells said that a premium price also played an important role in the growing inquisitiveness of the insurance companies.

Insurers wanted to use the tests to lower premiums to those who were free from certain genetic predispositions to particular illnesses than from those with bad news printed in their genetic makeup. But the disadvantage is that this would lead to families being left penniless and homeless when a breadwinner died. But the debate ended when the Genetic and Insurance Committee (GAIC) agreed that only one test that for Huntington's disease, was sufficiently reliable to be acceptable for insurance purposes.

From 2001 this came into effect only for life policies valued at more than £500,000, critical illness at more than £300,000 and income protection paying more than £30,000.

The GAIC now asked for the introduction of the breast cancer tests to be included in the insurance but later denounced the idea. They are looking for further research into a particular aspect of the testing. But it was now known that the debate will not disappear when there is an imbalance of information or risk.

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