THE MAGAZINE

Genetic Discrimination

A bill (S. 306) introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) that would prohibit genetic discrimination by employers and insurance providers was approved by the Senate but was not taken up by the House of Representatives. The bill would have made it illegal for health insurance providers or group health plans to use genetic information as a factor in providing service or establishing premiums. The measure would also have prohibited a health insurance provider from requesting or requiring that an individual—or his or her family member—undergo a genetic test. Similarly, S. 306 would have make it illegal for an employer to segregate or classify employees on the basis of genetic information, deprive them of employment opportunities, or otherwise adversely affect them. Under the bill, employees would be prohibited from requesting, requiring, or purchasing an employee’s genetic information. The measure did make exceptions in certain instances, such as when information is required to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act or when it is necessary for genetic monitoring of the biological effects of toxic substances in the workplace.

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