Genetic testing problematic in insurance industry

Legislative steps are being taken to target discrimination that may result from genetic testing, but Toronto health lawyer Elyse Sunshine tells Law Times that this is already an issue in the insurance industry.

“They ask a myriad of questions about your family history and predisposition to certain diseases and that brings you into a certain category. It’s the suggestion that you have to get a test in order to qualify that’s problematic,” says Sunshine, partner at Rosen Sunshine LLP.

Sunshine tells Law Times that the area of genetic testing is both complex and emotional.

“A test may show that you carry a gene, but the disease may never manifest itself. You may just be a carrier.”

Still, Sunshine, who is on the research ethics board at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, says she believes society is on the cusp of great change.

“There is more testing and testing itself is more sophisticated. People are getting a firmer understanding of what could happen. Should we run and panic? No, but I’m glad we’re talking about it.”

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