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BMJ. 2007 June 23; 334(7607): 1288.
PMCID: PMC1895674
Genetics and Insurance

Effect on premiums is small

R Guy Thomas, honorary lecturer

Neither Holm nor Ashcroft addresses the quantitative question: how much difference would genetic information make to insurance prices?1 2 Would banning insurers from access to genetic tests raise prices by 0.01% or 1% or 100%?

The answer is that it probably makes very little difference indeed. Certainly all estimates of the difference to date, under a variety of approaches and assumptions, have been negligible by comparison with the variations in insurance prices which exist for many other reasons.

To the very minor extent that prices do rise as a result of restricting insurers' access to genetic tests, this may not be a bad thing. In a competitive market, the logical corollary of an increase in insurance prices is an equivalent increase in claim payouts.

The effect of a ban—if there is any measurable effect, which is highly doubtful—is a small redistribution towards people who are affected by actuarially relevant genetic predispositions.3 4

Notes

Competing interests: None declared.

References

1. Ashcroft R. Should genetic information be disclosed to insurers? No. BMJ 2007;334:1197 (9 June.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Holm S. Should genetic information be disclosed to insurers? Yes. BMJ 2007;334:1196 (9 June.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]
3. Guy Thomas. www.guythomas.org.uk
4. Genetics and Insurance Research Centre. Publications www.ma.hw.ac.uk/ams/girc/publications.php

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