The federal government issued new rules on October 1 protect individuals against having genetic information used unfairly to raise health insurance rates, deny health insurance, or limit coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
As part of the implementation of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury published the new regulations in the Federal Register, providing for a comment period before they become final.
In addition, the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to clarify that genetic information is health information. As such, insurance companies cannot use or disclose genetic information to compute premiums, deny coverage, or deny benefits because of pre-existing conditions. Penalties for violating the HIPAA Privacy Rules range from $100 to $50,000 for each violation. Read the rest of this entry »