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Insurance discrimination and hepatitis C: Recent developments and the need for reforms

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Current direct-acting antiviral treatments for hepatitis C have the potential not only to cure the disease but to address the discrimination associated with having the virus. However, obstacles remain to the tackling of discrimination in many areas, including in the insurance industry where many insurers still require (a history of) hepatitis C to be disclosed in insurance applications even where it has been cured. This article considers Australian insurance law and practice in the context of hepatitis C. It proceeds in three parts. In part II we analyse the case law on insurance and hepatitis C. Next, we examine in part III an Australian-first report on insurance discrimination against LGBTIQA+ populations, including people living with another blood-borne virus, HIV. Whilst there has been no equivalent major Australian study on people with (a history of) hepatitis C, this recent work on HIV, combined with the case law surrounding hepatitis C, raises the possibility that insurance practices and actuarial data regarding hepatitis C are now outdated. In part IV we consider proposed reforms to insurance discrimination in the Australian Capital Territory and potential law and policy reforms throughout Australia. We argue that assumptions about the risks associated with hepatitis C need to be reconceptualised following the advent of direct-acting antiviral treatments, in order to avoid unreasonable discrimination against people with (a history of) the virus. 


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© LexisNexis 2022 This is the author accepted manuscript.