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DNA strand in blue on gradient background

After her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Meg Herrmann decided to get genetically tested for a hereditary cancer-causing gene.

“I thought, ‘I need to know.’ Hereditary cancer can develop at any point in your life and you have a 70% likelihood that it’ll develop,” the Brisbane PhD candidate says.

Twelve weeks ago, the 25-year-old underwent a preventive mastectomy. As a carrier of the BRCA2 gene, the surgery has reduced her chance of developing breast cancer by more than 95%.

While she has taken life-changing steps to benefit her health, her financial future hangs in the balance. Under the Disability Discrimination Act, she can be denied life insurance as she took a genetic test that revealed her cancer risk.

The practice – known as genetic discrimination – is now under scrutiny, with submissions to the federal government’s consultation on the use of genetic testing results in life insurance underwriting closing on Wednesday night.

In Australia, an exception to anti-discrimination legislation allows insurance companies to use genetic information to deny, cap or increase the cost of life insurance cover.

A 2018...