Genetic Tests and Group Health Plans
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
Effective for plan years beginning on or after May 21, 2009 for the health insurance provisions under Title I and November 21, 2009 for the employment nondiscrimination provisions under Title II (or January 1, 2010 for calendar year plans)
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) amends ERISA to restrict the collection and use of genetic information in connection with group health benefits. Group health plans and insurers are now, generally, prohibited from imposing a preexisting condition limitation on the basis of genetic information where a genetically pre-disposed disease or disorder has not yet manifested itself. Further, discrimination in eligibility, premiums or coverage under a plan based on genetic information is also prohibited. GINA also generally prohibits plans from requesting or requiring individuals or their family members to undergo a genetic test and from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information for underwriting purposes or prior to an individual's enrollment. Genetic information now expressly falls within HIPAA's definition of "protected health information" and must be treated as such when in the plan's or issuer's possession. Further guidance is expected in advance of the effective date, so employers should be prepared to act quickly in order to comply with GINA.
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