May 30, 2024

US bans genetic discrimination

But issue not closed

The US has banned genetic discrimination by health insurers and employers. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which sailed through both the House (414-1) and the Senate (95-0), prohibits health insurance companies from using genetic information to deny benefits or raise premiums. "This clears away what in many people´s mind had been a real cloud on the horizon," says Dr Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. "Families with a strong history of genetic disease will have one less worry about the circumstances they find themselves in."

However, this is unlikely to put an end to the issue. As genetic tests provide more information more cheaply, the idea of insuring patients against unknown health risks could eventually collapse. One consequence would be a stronger case for universal health coverage. "Ultimately unlocking all these genetic secrets will make the whole idea of private health insurance obsolete,– says Karen Pollitz, director of the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University." ~ New York Times, May 2