President Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which bars employers and insurers from discriminating against people when genetic testing reveals they are susceptible to diseases. Passed by a near-unaminous vote in Congress, the anti-discrimination measure aims to ensure that advances in DNA testing won’t end up being used against people.
The new law forbids employers and insurance companies to deny employment, promotions or health coverage to people when genetic tests show they have a predisposition to cancer or other ailments. Each person probably has six or more genetic mutations that place him or her at risk for some disease, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.
While genetic tests have advanced diagnosis of many diseases, people have refused to take the tests or hidden their identities out of concern that the information may be used against them by their employer or insurance company. The new law prohibits insurance companies from using genetic data to set premiums or determine eligibility.
Release Date: May 21, 2008
Source: Compiled from news sources and press statements
For more information: Genome.gov