Teamsters Local 177
Teamsters Local 177

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Genetic Testing
Dec 04, 2020

  As genetic testing, and its consequences, become more prevalent, the possibility that health insurers will attempt to deny coverage or increase premiums because of genetic characteristics becomes increasingly likely. A recent federal statute should preclude that possibility.

   Late last year, Congress amended the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") to prohibit discrimination against individuals whose genetic charactersitics give them a predisposition to certain diseases. Under the amended law, an individual who has been subject to genetic testing, or whose gentic or family history indicates a greater likelihood of particular diseases, may not be the subject of discrimination by a health insurer becauses of that genetic trait. Such discrimination would include cancellation of coverage, a refusal to extend or renew coverage or an increase in the cost of coverage.

   It should be noted that New Jersey has been in the legal forefront of this area for several years. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination has long provided that it is impermissible to discriminate against an individual because of a genetic characteristic. In combination with the federal law, New Jersey employees should feel comfortable and confident that the results of genetic testing, whatever their outcome, will not also trigger health care denial, difficulty in obtaining new coverage, or increased premiums.


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