Genetic testing law will lead to higher premiums, says industry body

CLHIA slams MPs decision to pass ‘unconstitutional’ Bill S-201 on genetic testing

Genetic testing law will lead to higher premiums, says industry body
The voice of the life and health insurance industry in Canada, the CLHIA, has reiterated Prime Minster Justin Trudeau's belief that Bill S-201 on genetic testing is unconstitutional, adding that it will lead to price increases on premiums.

Last week the proposed legislation passed in the House of Commons as MPs of all political stripes defied the government with a vote of 222-60.

The insurance industry has fiercely opposed part of the bill making it illegal for anyone to require a person to undergo genetic testing, or disclose the results of previous tests, as a condition of signing or continuing a policy.

Also prohibited is the sharing genetic testing results without written consent, which could result in a fine of up to $1 million, or five years behind bars.

The CLHIA has deemed these measures completely unnecessary, saying providers have already committed to never asking a person applying for life insurance to take a genetic test. For people that have already undergone a genetic test, the industry may choose to use those results, but only for new life insurance applications worth over $250,000, effective January 1, 2018.

“The life and health insurance industry is extremely disappointed that Bill S-201 was passed without significant amendment,” said the CLHIA. “The industry agrees with the federal government’s position as expressed by the prime minister and the minister of justice, as well as a number of provinces, that an important element of the bill is unconstitutional.”

Leading up to the bill’s reading last week, the federal government took the position that the proposed law was an infringement on provincial jurisdiction over insurance.

Rob Oliphant, the Liberal MP who shepherded the bill, countered that the provinces had neglected their duty on this issue, thus making parliamentary intervention necessary.

“This was a great day for Parliament, a great day for human rights and a greater day for people who are worried about getting the genetic test that could save their life but are afraid of facing discrimination,” Oliphant told the Canadian Press after the vote passed.

While the bill’s supporters say its passage will protect consumers, the CLHIA argues the opposite is in fact true.

“We believe that the bill will have unintended consequences, including the affordability of insurance,” it said, adding that data from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries shows that  Bill S-201 would lead to price increases of 30% for men and 50% for women for term life insurance.

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