Updated May 3, 2019
What would really happen if an employer or health insurance company tried to improperly use genetic information? Has GINA ever been tested? Yes. GINA was put to test when two warehouse workers were awarded $2,225,000 in 2015 because their company, Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, required DNA samples to be submitted. Employees were required to have their DNA collected in attempts to identify who had been defecating in a warehouse. Protected by GINA, these two employees successfully sued Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services.
What is GINA?
GINA stands for Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Its purpose is to protect individuals from genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment.
GINA prevents people from being charged more for insurance or being denied coverage if they have a genetic predisposition. Insurance companies are specifically banned under GINA from using genetic information to:
1. include a preexisting condition exclusion
2. specify the conditions of the policy;
3. establish eligibility, contribution amounts and premium fees.
GINA also extends to employment. Companies are specifically banned under GINA from using genetic information to:
1. fire or refuse to hire an employee;
2. discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, promotions, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment;
In addition, GINA prohibits employers and health insurers from requesting, requiring, disclosing or purchasing the results of a genetic test or genetic information.
This act does not work retroactively, meaning if someone was genetically discriminated before the act, they are not protected.
While GINA is the most comprehensive law of its kind, it does not:
1. apply to life or disability insurance;
2. apply to members of the US military, veterans obtaining health care through Veteran’s Administration, or the Indian Health Service;
3. prohibit insurers from using current health status to determine coverage or premiums.
For more information on GINA, you can visit www.GINAHelp.org.
Photo by Canadian Blood Services, via Flickr