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Predictive Genetic Information and Access to Life Assurance: The Poverty of ‘Genetic Exceptionalism’

  • James Mittra (a1)

Concern that advances in predictive genetic testing might result in increased numbers of individuals being denied access to life assurance has led many countries to restrict insurers’ historic ‘right to underwrite’. Critics of the insurance industry present genetic discrimination as a threat to the social values of equality and inclusion. However, by unpacking the foundational principles of private insurance, and adopting a more critical approach to genetic information, discrimination, fairness and inclusion, this article suggests that the normative values underpinning life assurance in Britain are unlikely to engender widespread exclusion in an age of increased genetic knowledge, but over-regulation of industry might itself create unacceptable inequity within the market. This suggests that we ought to link the legitimacy of regulatory constraint to the type of social good particular forms of insurance exemplify, and instead of focusing narrowly on genetic information consider the broader implications of risk assessment for the privatization of welfare.

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