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Health Plans Can’t Use|Genetics to Discriminate

WASHINGTON (CN) - Health insurers are not to treat Americans unfairly based on differences in DNA that may affect their health.

The Internal Revenue Service, Employee Benefits Security Administration, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have implemented the health insurance coverage and group health plan portions of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, also referred to as GINA. GINA also prevents discrimination from employers. The rules are effective Dec. 7.

In a related regulation, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services intends to revise a standard issued under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The agency plans to implement part of the GINA regarding privacy and confidentiality of genetic information. The rules under the HIPAA already prohibit insurers from imposing a preexisting condition exclusion based solely on genetic information.

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