The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a
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Genetic discrimination occurs when people treat others (or are treated) differently because they have or are perceived to have a
Some legal scholars have argued for a more precise and broader definition of genetic discrimination: "Genetic discrimination should be defined as when an individual is subjected to negative treatment, not as a result of the individual’s physical manifestation of disease or disability, but solely because of the individual’s genetic composition."
Genetic Discrimination is considered to have its foundations in genetic determinism and genetic essentialism, and is based on the concept of genism, i.e. distinctive human characteristics and capacities are
Genetic discrimination is illegal in the U.S. after passage of the
Although it was passed in 2008 there were 201 cases that cited GINA in 2010 and 333 in 2014. It wasn’t until 2013 that a company actually faced penalties under GINA.
While the 2008 GINA Act does protect against genetic discrimination pertaining to health insurance, it does not protect against genetic discrimination under other forms of insurance, such as life, disability or long-term care insurance. Therefore, patients are enjoying less protection against genetic discrimination in comparison with other peer countries, such as France, Switzerland, Australia and the United Kingdom. Additionally, 2008 Gina offers no protection for home/mortgage insurance or when an employer has 15 or less employees. Excluded from the Act are also parties who are covered under Veterans Health Administration or Indian Health Services. Because a variety of medical tests serve as proxies for genetic information, proponents of insurer access to genetic information argue that it does not require specific limiting legislation. However, this represents an important problem for recruiting participants to medical research according to other scholars stressing that protecting American against discrimination may only happen with the advent of a voluntary moratorium by the insurance industry.
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing was first offered in 1997 by
On May 4, 2017, Bill S-201, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, received Royal Assent and became law in Canada. Despite government opposition in the House of Commons, it survived the lower house by the support of backbench Liberals and the totality of the
Accordingly, one effect of this legislation will be to prohibit insurance providers from demanding that a prospective client undergo a genetic test - or to disclose an existing test - as a prerequisite to the provision of insurance coverage.
The Equality Act of 2010 prohibits the use of genetic information for employment decisions such as hiring and promotions. While no formal law exists banning the use of genetic information for insurance policy decisions, the Government of the United Kingdom and the Association of British Insurers voluntarily entered a moratorium from 2014 to 2019 to refrain from using genetic information with regards to insurance.