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Old 10-28-2009, 10:34 AM
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What is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008?

What is the GINA Act? The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 also referred to as GINA, is a new Federal law that prohibits discrimination in health coverage and employment based on genetic information. The President signed the act into law on May 21, 2008.

Who is affected?
It appears that Private sector employers with 15 or more employees and all Public Sector Employers.

When does the Law take effect?
The Law becomes effective November 21, 2009.

What does the GINA law cover?
The Act prohibits discrimination in health coverage and employment on the basis of genetic information. GINA, together with already existing nondiscrimination provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, generally prohibits health insurers or health plan administrators from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or the individual’s family members, or using it for decisions regarding coverage, rates, or preexisting conditions.

The law also prohibits most employers from using genetic information for hiring, firing, or promotion decisions, and for any decisions regarding terms of employment.

What are the limitations of GINA?
1. GINA’s health coverage non-discrimination protections do not extend to life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance.

2. GINA does not mandate coverage for any particular test or treatment.

3. GINA’s employment provisions generally do not apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees.

4. For health coverage provided by a health insurer to individuals, GINA does not prohibit the health insurer from determining eligibility or premium rates for an individual based on the manifestation of a disease or disorder in that individual. For employment-based coverage provided by group health plans, GINA permits the overall premium rate for an employer to be increased because of the manifestation of a disease or disorder of an individual enrolled in the plan, but the manifested disease or disorder of one individual cannot be used as genetic information about other group members to further increase the premium.

5. GINA does not prohibit health insurers or health plan administrators from obtaining and using genetic test results in making health insurance payment determinations.

Employers should be aware of this act as there are some potential penalties for violation of the law.

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