The Dialogue - Genetics


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Stephen Dixon (Deputy Actuary at Munich Reinsurance Australia) questions Jessica Chen (Director of Insurance, Finance at BT Financial Group) on the research, potential impacts and considerations of modern genetic testing in the Dialogue thought leadership paper 'Genetics - a testing time for insurers?' - authored by Jessica and Alan Doble. In the paper, Jessica looks at the far reaching implications for society and individuals of genetic testing. Factors such as rapidly decreasing test costs and greater understanding of genetic research results have increased the use of genetic testing: Jessica notes that the genetics community in Australia sees a need to reduce barriers for people who want to understand their genetic make-up for health and/or family reasons. Increased genetic testing creates the potential for affected individuals to mitigate the risk of inherited disease that previously could not be identified through traditional blood and urine tests. Currently predictive genetic testing uses technology called genome-wide Association studies whereby diseases that are caused by a number of gene mutations are researched and identified as polygenetic diseases. This technology is utilised to predict more common diseases such as cancer and heart disease and yet despite the advances, there are barriers that still present themselves to individuals including: - Ethical considerations regarding pre-emptive consent for future interpretations from older genetic tests. - Discovery of becoming high risk of a genetic disease - Disclosure of genetic test results form an individual to medical and insurance professionnel Jessica argues that while genetic testing is not regarded as a current threat to the insurance industry, should larger volumes of genetic tests be undertaken then individuals will start changing insurers based on the results. Insurers will need to redesign their policies, premiums and coverage to ensure the quality of life for their insureds remains high and their customer base continues to be loyal. Jessica notes however that it is up to the individual to make better informed decisions around their life and health insurance. Jessica recommends building a database where claim outcomes relate to high genetic information to track any new findings and similar patterns in a cluster of individuals. Jessica and Alan also encourage the FSC to publish information on how insurers make decisions on information provided to them through genetic tests to help individuals and the wider industries understand how they're tracking. Overall Jessica makes a call to action for the medical profession, genetic research and insurance industry to come together and create a transparent solution that takes into account everybody's views. Download the Transcript here Access the Paper and Media Release here Follow the Actuaries Institute across all social; ? Facebook: ? Twitter: ? LinkedIn: ? Spreaker: ? YouTube: CPD members can earn 2 points for each Podcast listened to.

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