Coming This Week: New Law To Prevent Discrimination Based On Genes
"The most important new antidiscrimination law in two decades - the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act - will take effect in the nation's workplaces next weekend, prohibiting employers from requesting genetic testing or considering someone's genetic background in hiring, firing or promotions," The New York Times reports. "The act also prohibits health insurers and group plans from requiring such testing or using genetic information - like a family history of heart disease - to deny coverage or set premiums or deductibles." Employers and insurers would no longer be allowed to ask employees for their medical histories. Group health plans would also be banned from "the common practice of rewarding workers, often with lower premiums or one-time payments, if they give their family medical histories when completing health risk questionnaires."
"The new law (called GINA) was passed by Congress last year because many Americans feared that if they had a genetic test, their employers or health insurers would discriminate against them, perhaps by firing them or denying coverage." Genetic tests can be used to "help determine whether someone is at risk of developing an inherited disease or medical condition" (Greenhouse, 11/15).