Signed back in 2008, the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act did not make much news at the time of its introduction into law. However, as genetic sequencing and identifying becomes faster, easier and cheaper for individuals to do, it is important to take a look this bill and understand its future ramifications.
The main purpose of this bill is to prevent the discrimination of individuals based on any genetic information, and on account of any potential consequences of an individuals genetic make up. For instance, if it were to be revealed through a genetic profile that an individual would be susceptible to a particular illness, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act will protect workers from being discriminated or adversely affected based on this information.
Further, this bill bars employers from requesting genetic information profiles of workers or new employees, or making genetic testing a requirement for any job offer or duties.
The act also bars health insurance companies from creating genetic profiles of insured individuals. Further, it makes it illegal to deny an individual coverage based on any information a genetic profile may reveal- including pre-existing conditions, future likely conditions, or any other information gleaned from a genetic profile.
Thanks to the foresight of Congress in taking a stand against discrimination and exploitation based on the retrieval of genetic information, Americans will not be subjected to bias based on their genetic profile. The rise of genetic testing raises many questions as to what information is stored at the genetic level, and calls for protection until we better understand exactly how this information can and will be used.