Q: Can getting a genetic test interfere with being able to buy long-term-care insurance in the future? If you do get a plan, can the insurer drop you after you find out the results of a genetic test?
A: In general, long-term-care insurers can indeed use genetic test results when they decide whether to offer you coverage. The federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibits health insurers from asking for or using your genetic information to make decisions about whether to sell you health insurance or how much to charge. But those rules don't apply to long-term-care, life or disability insurance.
When you apply for long-term-care insurance, the insurer may review your medical records and ask you questions about your health history and that of your family. It's all part of the underwriting process to determine whether to offer you a policy and how much to charge.
If the insurer asks you whether you've undergone genetic testing, you generally have to disclose it, even if the testing was performed through a direct-to-consumer site like 23andMe, said Catherine Theroux, a spokeswoman for LIMRA, an insurance industry trade group.
"You need to release any medically relevant information," she said.
Some states provide extra consumer protections related to genetic testing and long-term-care insurance, said Sonia Mateu Suter, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in genetics and the law. But most follow federal law.
If you get genetic testing after you have a policy, the results can't affect your coverage.
"Once the policy has been underwritten and issued, the insurer doesn't revoke the policy if new medical information comes to light," Theroux said.