Your Genes, Your Business

In May 2017, the Canadian parliament passed the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNA) – formerly known as Bill S-201. This Act, meant to prohibit and prevent discrimination, states that genetic test information can no longer be requested or used in rendering underwriting decisions. How this bill will impact underwriting and product pricing remains to be seen.

In 2013, actress and activist Angelina Jolie announced that she is a carrier of the inherited BRCA breast and ovarian cancer gene mutation. As a preventative measure, she underwent a prophylactic mastectomy and preventative hysterectomy to reduce the risk of developing these cancers. Following her announcement, a study in The British Medical Journal* revealed a large spike in the number of BRCA testing requests. This highlighted the power of celebrity endorsements as well as the public’s concern of breast cancer being a major health issue.

If your insurance advisor, an insurer, or other professional, has asked for your genetic test information to be disclosed, be aware that you are not required to share your genetic test results with anyone and have the right to decline the request. However, in cases where genetic test results may prove to be favourable from an underwriting standpoint, then you may offer this information to the professionals you work with but just be sure to provide explicit consent.

Be sure that you work with an advisor who will ensure equitable, compliant and prompt treatment of your case in light of the changed legislation – and most importantly, look after your well-being.

Contact your advisor today to discuss your insurance plan.

To learn more about the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, please visit the Government of Canada Justice Laws website.

*Source: British Medical Journal, 2016; 355: i6357, Anupam b. Jena et al. http://www.bmj.com/content/355/bmj.i6357