Taking an at-home genetic test for fun could make your health insurance more expensive when signing up for late-in-life policies

By Julie Mazziotta
August 08, 2018 04:07 PM

At-home genetic tests like 23andMe, Helix and more are popping up as a fun way to learn about your family history, sleep habits and even hair type. But taking the tests can lead to higher insurance rates later in life.

While the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act stops insurers from using or requiring people to disclose any information learned from at-home genetic test kits before offering or deciding the cost of health insurance, that rule does not apply for long-term insurance policies, Kaiser Health Network reports.

When it comes time to sign up for long-term care policies, life insurance or disability insurance, insurers can go through medical records and ask about both you and your family’s health history. That means the fun (or not-so-fun) information that came out of taking a genetic test kit should be part of the insurance process, and can lead to higher rates.

So if you learn that there’s a history of heart disease in the family after taking an at-home test, you’re obligated to let insurers know.

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On the bright side, if you take any test after you already have an insurance plan in place, it won’t mean higher rates.

“Once the policy has been underwritten and issued, the insurer doesn’t revoke the policy if new medical information comes to light,” Catherine Theroux, a spokeswoman for LIMRA, an insurance industry trade group, told KHN.