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PMI firms say they will survive gene test era

Private medical insurers have rejected a prediction by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sir Paul Nurse that the individual PMI sector will disappear within 50 years.

Nurse, a leading researcher and joint head of cancer charity, Cancer Research UK, said this week that advances in genetic testing will make the PMI market redundant within 30 to 50 years.

But product providers say they are capable of adapting to advances in medical science and if genetic testing begins to play a more prominent role, their focus will change to treatment and prevention.

The ABI says there are many other factors besides genetics such as diet, environment and exercise which play a major role on illness levels and there will always be a role for PMI.

Nurse said: “I think the insurance system for individuals will simply go defunct. I think that we sho- uld look much more to society taking responsibility for its individuals. Thirty to 50 years from now, you have to have social medicine and society-based insurance systems.”

Standard Life Healthcare managing director Mike Hall says: “There will always be a role for the private market because we believe that people want choice. If genetic developments do allow more to be known about a patient&#39s disposition to certain diseases, we will move to focus on treatment as well as prevention.”

Norwich Union Healthcare managing director David Rogers says: “While knowing someone&#39s genetic predisposition is helpful, it is only one piece of the larger picture.

“I cannot see it playing a dominant role in the insurance market in the next 20 to 30 years.”

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