The new Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which takes effect this month, will Bar Misuse of Genetic Testing by Employers. In addition to regulating employers’ behavior, it 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.” This doesn’t seem controversial, considering it only garnered one no-vote between the two houses of Congress last year.
A family history or genetic test indicating higher risk of a disease is logically like a pre-existing condition – that is, something about the person that increases the odds that they will cost the insurer more. Like being a woman increases the risk of pregnancy, all else equal. Or being a man increases the odds of erectile dysfunction. How could it not? Like the ban on pre-existing condition penalties – which everyone agrees are evil – the gene-testing ban moves our crazy private insurance system further in the direction of socializing risk.
Making insurance companies treat everyone as if they will cost the same amount seems like an odd way to run a private health insurance system. Not as odd as having a private health insurance system in the first place – I’m just saying.
Here’s a handy flyer you can post at your worksite.
(As an aside, this law seems to take away one of the unintended benefits received by adopted children with no known family medical history – nothing to penalize.)