Law barring genetic discrimination going into effect

A federal law which protects people from genetic discrimination will go into effect this week. The law will bar health insurers from denying coverage, raising premiums or otherwise making decisions based on genetic information, including family history. (Life insurers retain the right to engage in these practices.)

While genetic testing can help doctors predict whether a person is likely to develop a condition--or help them determine which treatments work best for that individual--people have been afraid to take the tests. They've been concerned that if the tests show a tendency toward having a particular illness, insurers will refuse to take them or charge them much higher premiums. Now, advocates hope, people will begin making use of genetic testing and start to see its benefits.

The law begins covering individual plans this week, but for employer-sponsored coverage, it takes effect whenever their new plan year starts, typically Jan. 1.

To learn more about the new law:
- read this Associated Press piece

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