Health Insurance And Genetic Information:
Just The Facts, Please

CONTACT: Richard Coorsh
(202) 824-1787


 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Our Rights Return
Our Rights Return