Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Goes Into Effect

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)of 2008, signed into law by previous President George W. Bush on May 21, 2008,and partly goes into effect on May 21, 2009, is an Act of Congress in the United States designed to prohibit the improper use of genetic information in health insurance and employment.

Under GINA, the EEOC definition of “genetic information” includes information about an individual’s family medical history. The law would prohibit an employer from asking about family medical history during an interview, or at any time after the employee is hired. It also prohibits employers from gathering information about the employee through individual genetic tests, or genetic tests of a family member.

The law has two parts: Title I and Title II. Title I, goes into effect on May 21, 2009, prohibits health insurance providers from discrimination against an individual based on genetic testing. This makes it illegal for health insurance providers to use or require genetic information to make decisions about a person's insurance eligibility or coverage. Title II, goes into effect on November 21, 2009, makes it illegal for employers to use a person's genetic information when making decisions about hiring, promotion, and several other terms of employment.

GINA applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including private employers, employment agencies, labor unions, and joint labor-management training programs. It also applies to government employers with 15 or more workers, including state and local governments, agencies of the federal executive branch and Congress. Each of these employers is referred to as a “covered entity” in the GINA regulations.

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