People who undergo genetic testing to establish their future risk of developing a genetic condition, such as Alzheimer's or breast cancer, will continue to have the right to take out health insurance without disclosing the test results to their insurer.
Public Health Minister Anne Milton has announced an extension of the 'Concordat and Moratorium on Genetics and Insurance', an agreement between the UK Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) intended to protect patients' privacy and ensure that those who do take the tests can still take out health insurance.
'This is an excellent agreement that has benefited many consumers', said Milton. 'The extension and strengthening of it will make sure that the public continue to have the confidence to use predictive genetic tests whilst being reassured that they can still get insurance'.
The agreement, which will now run until 2017, will be reviewed three years before its end date to enable patients to react to any future changes. Stephen Gay, director of life, savings and protection at the ABI, said 'the agreement on genetics and insurance has provided a lot of reassurance for people since its introduction. This is the second time it has been reviewed and extended, which means people will continue to be able to take out very sizeable amounts of insurance without having to disclose predictive genetic test results'.
Predictive genetic tests take a blood or saliva sample and analyse the DNA to check for genetic indicators linked to the development of genetic conditions or diseases. They are particularly important to those with a family history of genetic conditions. The tests provide an estimation of the risk that the condition will manifest and could allow any possible treatment to begin as early as possible.
The only exception to the agreement is a test for Huntington's disease, which is considered to be a high penetrance condition. Insurers can ask for the results of the test for life insurance policies over £500,000.