FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Health Insurance And
Just The Facts, Please
CONTACT: Richard Coorsh
Eminent geneticists, academics, and advocacy
groups often promote the false perception that health insurers discriminate or want to
discriminate against people based upon genetic information. All too often, they overlook
the following facts:
- You cannot lose your private health insurance
if you take a genetic test. It's against the law to single out people with group
coverage for a premium increase or for cancellation of coverage, either because of one's
health or because of the result of any test, including a genetic test. Furthermore,
the law requires individual (non-group) coverage to be "guaranteed renewable" -
meaning that a person with either group or individual coverage can continue it regardless
of whether he or she is in poor health, or regardless of the results of any test.
- Health insurers do not require genetic tests
as a prerequisite for coverage. No health insurer requires anyone applying for
coverage to take a genetic test in order to obtain major medical coverage; nor are we
aware of any plans to do so.
- There is no scientific evidence showing that
insurers engage in "genetic discrimination." A study of existing literature
by Philip R. Reilly, JD, MD - one of the nation's leading authorities on the ethical
implications of genetic testing - found no evidence to support charges that people with
adverse genetic test results are discriminated against by health insurers. According to
Dr. Reilly, studies cited by advocacy organizations report only perceptions about
health insurance held by people with genetic conditions.
- Most Americans get coverage without
submitting any medical information. Roughly nine out of 10 Americans have group
coverage - primarily through an employer - and the overwhelming majority of them do not
submit a health history in order to obtain coverage.
- HIAA supports uniform federal standards for
protecting confidential medical information. It is important to treat all medical
information - including genetic information - equally to assure strong and uniform
confidentiality protections. Furthermore, health insurers have an excellent track record
of processing literally hundreds of thousands of information transactions daily, with
virtually no violations of patient confidentiality.
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