Jun 11, 2024, 1:54 PM
health insurance

Submission by AGenDA to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee on the Contracts of Insurance Bill

Against Genomic Discrimination in Aotearoa (AGenDA), is a group of more than 50 clinicians, researchers, academics, lawyers, and representatives from Māori, Pasific, NGO’s and patient groups collaborating with Industry to prevent genomic discrimination whether that relates to insurance or human rights.

The Contracts of Insurance Bill provides a unique opportunity for AGenDA to draw attention to New Zealand’s Insurance Law framework's lack of protection against genomic discrimination, making it the only OECD country without such protection.

In this submission, we seek the inclusion of a prohibition similar to the Canadian Genetic Non-Discrimination Act 2017 (4) to prevent insurers, insurance brokers, and other insurance intermediaries from asking for and using genomic test results to refuse access to services and/or charge more for them. This removes impediments to using genomics and/or molecular testing to access modern medical treatments, screening, and prevention programmes, and removes the deterrent from industry for investment (1).

This will align New Zealand with international best practices and the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights. Article 6 of the Declaration states: "No one shall be subjected to discrimination based on genetic characteristics that is intended to infringe or has the effect of infringing human rights, fundamental freedoms, and human dignity" (1). Prohibiting the use of genomic test results in insurance decisions would also align with New Zealand’s international human rights obligations. These obligations include the right to health, as stated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 12), the principle of non-discrimination in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the protections against discrimination in the Human Rights Act 1993 and the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 (1).

Existing legislation through Te Tiriti o Waitangi also requires rights, interests and taonga. Health information is taonga (treasure) that must be cared for, used and treated with respect. Protection through legislation will be well placed to incorporate this aspect (1).

Read the full submission here.

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