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BMA looks to watchdog as gene test fears grow

The British Medical Association is to write to the Insurance Ombudsman questioning its position on life offices using genetic test results.

The letter will not refer to any specific companies but the BMA says it has heard that life offices are putting pressure on people to take genetic tests before insuring them.

The BMA, which is a trade body and self-regulator for doctors in the UK, says it has several concerns about the use of genetic test results by the insurance industry. It says it will keep a close eye on the ABI and the industry to ensure they act responsibly as tests are developed for more conditions.

A BMA spokeswoman says it will not shy away from calling upon the Government to introduce statutory regulation if the industry acts improperly.

The Government has agreed that only the genetic test for Huntingdon&#39s disease can be used by life offices when assessing an individual for life cover.

The Government&#39s genetics and insurance committee is considering whether life offices should be allowed to use the results of six further tests.

The BMA spokeswoman says: “We are planning to write to the ombudsman to ask what guidelines it has in place to ensure that people are not being pressurised into taking genetic tests by insurance companies.”

Financial Ombudsman Service head of communications David Cresswell says: “We have not received a letter from the BMA. Generally speaking, the ombudsman would not involve itself unless complaints from specific consumers are brought forward.”

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