Health services are funded differently in different countries. Some require people to have health insurance or to pay for treatment, while others are funded from general taxation.
Although many countries have passed laws that prevent genetic discrimination, it is still possible for insurance companies to deny you coverage if you have a hereditary syndrome in some places. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with your local anti-genetic discrimination laws, and health insurance plans if you have BHD.
Most of the information here pertains to Australia, the European Union, the UK and the United States. To suggest more countries or more links, or if you have further questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Health insurance premiums in Australia are set at the same rate for everyone, regardless of family history. Age is the only factor which may have an effect on premium rates.
However, life insurers can use genetic information when calculating premiums, although any genetic information used must be justifiable and reasonable. If you have genetic testing before or after taking out life insurance, you must report this to the provider, or the policy may become void.
No insurer can insist that you undergo genetic testing before taking out a policy.
Health insurance links and information from the Australian government.
Healthcare plans and insurance options vary by member state, although private health insurance is estimated to only account for 3-4% of health expenditure across the EU. This means that that vast majority of healthcare is paid for by general taxation or by patients at the point of delivery.
- European Health Strategy is a summary of current EU-wide legislation on health strategies, programmes and policies.
- EU Social Security Coordination discusses EU residents’ rights, including for specific member countries.
- Health at a Glance Report is published every 2 years by the OECD, and tracks the progress towards of effective, accessible and resilient health care across the EU. The most recent version was published in November 2020. For further information on health financing in the EU see pages 164-166 of the full report.
Healthcare in the UK is publicly funded. However, private healthcare options are also available. Some companies may also provide their workers a private healthcare plan. If this is the case, or you are considering taking out your own private healthcare plan, the Genetic Alliance UK has information on health insurance and genetic conditions.
According to the terms of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), it is now illegal for any health insurer to ask you to have a genetic test, or to use genetic test results to calculate your insurance premium or as a reason to refuse you health insurance. However, insurers can (and do) use your symptoms or any treatments you’ve had to calculate your premiums.
GINA only covers health insurance. Therefore, it may be useful to look into life insurance options as early as possible if you are considering obtaining a plan.
- The USA Government website provides an overview about health insurance, and information about the different types available.
- MedlinePlus offers a guide to financial assistance.
Publication date: December 2014
Review date: May 2021