October 3, 2009

Genetic Testing Information to be protected under new HHS regulations

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury announced that patients' genetic health information will have greater protections under new regulations issued earlier this week. Under Title I of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) and the new interim final regulations, group health plans and insurers cannot:

  • Increase premiums for the group based upon results of one enrollee's genetic information
  • Deny enrollment
  • Impose pre-existing condition exclusions
  • Conduct any forms of underwriting based upon genetic information
  • Cannot request, require, or buy genetic information for underwriting purposes or prior to and in connection with enrollment
  • Plans and insurers are prohibited from asking individuals or family members to undergo a genetic test

The proposed rules published this week modifies the HIPAA Privacy Rule pursuant to GINA Title I to clarify that genetic information is health information and prohibits the use and disclosure of genetic information by covered health plans for eligibility determinations, premium computations, applications for pre-existing condition exclusions, and any other activity related to the contract of health insurance benefits.


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