Senator Stargel and Representative Sprowls push for DNA privacy

by | Jan 16, 2020

DNA can tell a lot about a person. It can show a person’s ethnic background, and increasingly, important health information for the future. It is information that can dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands – especially without the owner’s knowledge.

Insurance companies may soon be barred in Florida from using genetic information made available through many popular services such as ancestry or 23andMe. 

Federal law already prohibits health insurers from using a consumer’s genetic information to decide to sell a specific policy, set premiums  or make decisions based on the information. But Florida lawmakers may soon pass legislation to protect consumer’s privacy issues they could face if their genetic record and information is entered into other records.   

Senator Kelli Stargel and Representative Chris Sprowls filed S1564 and H1189 to block life insurers from using genetic testing results to make any decisions for insurance purposes.

This safeguard is a priority for Sprowls, who is slated to become House Speaker in later this year. If the bill passes and is signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida will become a national leader the genetic privacy movement. 

“I believe there is nothing greater for our privacy than our genetic code,” said Sprowls. “Handing that over to large insurance companies is bad public policy.” 

The bill would block insurers from using DNA information against an insured person to set rates or deny benefits, and would also prohibit insurance companies from canceling, limiting, denying or establishing varying premium rates based on genetic data. 

Insurance companies say the bill could disrupt the insurance market in Florida. Insurance companies argue customers know more about themselves, potentially cheating the insurer out of exact rate values. They say that charging an average premium for individuals predisposed to health problems raises the cost of coverage for everyone else. 

The House Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Republican Representative Ray Rodrigues, gave its approval for H1189. The house bill has one more committee stop, Commerce Committee and S1564 will attend its first committee, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

If the legislation passes and is signed into law, it will go into effect July 1, 2020.

 

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