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Genetic Discrimination – Know Your Rights

U.S. law protects people from employment and health insurance discrimination based on genetic information.

Genetic information includes results of genetic tests, participation in genetic research, and the use of genetic services.

What Federal Law Protects

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 states that – based on genetic information – it is illegal for:

  • Health insurance companies to make decisions about coverage or premium rates.
  • An employer with 15 or more employees to make hiring, firing, or promotion decisions.

In addition, a health insurance company or employer cannot require someone to get a genetic test.

A brown book with the title Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

What Federal Law Does Not Protect:

Life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance

The law does not protect people against possible discrimination by life insurance, long-term care insurance, or disability insurance companies. For this reason, it is possible that these types of insurance companies might ask about your genetic information. And, they might use this information to decide whether or not to provide coverage.

U.S. military, Veterans Administration, Indian Health Service, and federal employees

The law does not include protection for members of the U.S. military, Veterans Administration, Indian Health Service, and federal employees. These groups already have similar protections in place.

Existing medical conditions

GINA does not protect people against possible discrimination by insurance companies based on the presence of a certain medical condition, such as cancer.

For More Information


Reviewed: June 2018

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