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Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

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What is genetic discrimination?

Genetic testing can provide important information for you and your relatives. For example, genetic testing can explain why certain medical conditions might run in your family. Genetic discrimination happens when employers or insurance companies use genetic information to make decisions about whether you can have a certain job or whether they will provide you with insurance coverage.

You may have questions about whether you can be discriminated against if you undergo genetic testing. In 2008, a federal law was passed called GINA, or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. This law provides certain protections against discrimination based on a person’s genetic information.

What does GINA protect you against?

  • It is illegal for health insurance companies to decide about coverage or premium rates based on the results of genetic tests.
  • It is illegal for an employer with 15 or more employees to make hiring, firing or promotion decisions based on genetic testing results.
  • A health insurance company or employer is not allowed to require someone to get a genetic test.

What does GINA not protect you against?

  • GINA does not protect you against possible discrimination by life insurance, long-term care insurance or disability insurance companies. For this reason, it is possible that these types of insurance companies might ask you about your genetic information. And, they might use it to decide whether or not to provide coverage for you.
  • GINA does not include protection for members of the U.S. military, Veterans Administration, Indian Health Service and federal employees. These groups already have protections in place that are similar to GINA.
  • GINA does not protect you against possible discrimination by insurance companies based on the presence of a certain medical condition, such as cancer.