GINA: The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
What is GINA?
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, referred to as GINA, is a new Federal law that prohibits discrimination in health coverage and employment based on genetic information.
How does the federal law affect state laws?
GINA provides a baseline level of protection against genetic discrimination for all Americans. Many states already have laws that protect against genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment situations. However, the degree of protection they provide varies widely, and while most provisions are less protective than GINA, some are more protective. All entities that are subject to GINA must, at a minimum, comply with all applicable GINA requirements, and may also need to comply with more protective state laws.
What will GINA do?
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.
Genetic information does not include information about the sex or age of any individual. The results of routine tests that do not measure DNA, RNA, or chromosomal changes, such as complete blood counts, cholesterol tests, and liver-function tests, are not protected under GINA.
How will the law be enforced and what are the penalties for violation of the law?
The law will be enforced by various Federal agencies. The Department of Labor, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Health and Human Services are responsible for Title I of GINA, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for Title II of GINA. Remedies for violations include corrective action and monetary penalties.
What won’t GINA do?
GINA’s health coverage non-discrimination protections do not extend to life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance. GINA does not mandate coverage for any particular test or treatment.
GINA’s employment provisions generally do not apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees.
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.
GINA does not prohibit health insurers or health plan administrators from obtaining and using genetic test results in making health insurance payment determinations.
What is the status of regulations to implement GINA?
INA started implementation in 2009. Here is a link to an interactive website that will provide the most up-to-date information on GINA: http://www.ginahelp.org/
[Disclaimer- This general summary should not be considered as an interpretation of the law. GENETWORx would encourage you to seek the advice of legal counsel and directs you to the following GINA Links for additional information.]
National Human Genome Research Institute – http://www.genome.gov/24519851
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/special/genetic/index.html
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm