Florida legislators moved closer Wednesday to banning life-insurance, long-term care insurance and disability-insurance companies from using customers’ genetic information in changing, denying or canceling policies.
The House passed the bill on to the Senate, where its prospects are much tougher. Florida would become the first state to have such a law if it is ultimately passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
State and federal law already prevent health insurance companies from considering a person’s genetic information when deciding if and at what price to cover that consumer. The Florida bill, sponsored by Rep. Chris Sprowls, R, would extend that ban to life, disability and long-term care insurers.
Curt Leonard, regional vice president for state relations for the American Council of Life Insurers, said earlier this month that his ACLI had expressed concerns on the issue for the past two years.
“We’ve expressed our concerns with Speaker Sprowls and other interested parties on this issue going back to 2018. So there’s no point in repeating the same things over and over again, in the interest of the committee's time,” Leonard said. “That being said, we do share the speaker-designate’s (Sprowls’) concerns about privacy. I think it's a concern for everybody.”
In addition to preventing insurers from using the information in making policy decisions, Sprowls’ bill also would block the companies from requiring or soliciting genetic information from applicants.
Sprowls said insurance companies have for years been able to sell policies without having access to the genetic data.
Insurance carriers “have been successful without access to genetic information. They have been able to provide affordable coverage to consumers without genetic information. Insurance is about spreading risk, not guaranteeing the outcomes or rewards to the (carriers). And affordable life, disability, and health insurance should not be available simply to the genetic elite,” Sprowls has said.
Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, has introduced a similar bill in the Senate, with some compromises. For example, her bill would allow insurers to use genetic info if it is found in a customer's medical records.