Florida Legislature Considers Proposal Regulating Insurers' Use Of Genetic Data

Jan 23, 2020

Incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls said Thursday that a proposal to ban life insurers, disability insurers and long-term care insurers from tapping into customers’ genetic information is ahead of the curve.

Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, made the comments to reporters after the House Commerce Committee unanimously approved the bill (HB 1189), positioning it to go to the full House.

The bill would prohibit insurers from using customers’ genetic information in changing, denying or canceling policies or in setting premiums for life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care coverage.

Insurance companies have testified they don’t use the information now. But Sprowls said he worries they might try to use it in the future as the popularity of genetic tests, such as 23andMe, continues to grow.

Federal law already prevents health insurers from using genetic information in underwriting policies and in setting premiums. But the prohibition doesn’t apply to life insurance or long-term care coverage, which Sprowls described as a “massive loophole.” Florida would become the first state to have such a law if Sprowls’ proposal is ultimately passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Commerce Committee approved the proposal without debate. While insurers oppose the bill, hospital lobbyists and AARP Florida indicated support for the measure Thursday, as did a representative of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ office. Patronis helps oversee Florida’s insurance market and regulations.

The Senate version of the bill (SB 1564) has not been heard in committees. Sprowls is poised to become House speaker after the November elections.