Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

A gap in genetic nondiscrimination law

Passed in August, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act forbids U.S. health insurers and employers from discriminating against people on the basis of DNA tests. Advocates say it should assuage fears about discrimination that in the past may have kept some people from getting medically indicated genetic tests. However, life insurance companies will still be allowed to consider genetic data when setting individual premiums — just as these insurers can factor in such details as a person's age, weight or smoking habits. Critics of the new law also note that it does not cover long-term care insurance, even though people at high risk for genetic diseases such as Alzheimer's, one study suggests, may be more likely to seek such insurance in the first place.