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DNA-Discrimination

As genetic testing becomes more commonplace, federal legislation in the form of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) aims to protect you from misuse of your DNA data. But the law has several loopholes.

Under GINA, it’s unlawful for employers to ask you about or discriminate based on “genetic information,” such as your family health history or results of genetic tests.

The same goes for health insurers. While they can consider your current health issues, they can’t use your genetic data to determine your eligibility, premiums, or coverage terms — even if you’re predisposed to diseases like breast cancer or diabetes. They are also forbidden to define preexisting conditions based solely on genetics.

What GINA doesn’t cover, however, leaves some individuals exposed. The law does not apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees, nor does it apply to life, disability, and long-term care insurance.

To learn more about the law, including how your employer might access your genetic information, visit www.ginahelp.org.

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