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GINA Regulations and How They Affect You

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By Minara El-Rahman on November 02, 2009 2:00 PM

The wellness incentives offered by your employer will be restricted by the government pretty soon. Starting Nov. 21, 2009, employer offered wellness programs will have to comply with new regulations under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. This Act is commonly known as GINA.

What is GINA?

GINA is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act passed in Congress in 2008. It is intended to prohibit using genetic information in health insurance and employment improperly. Some improper uses are: denying health coverage, charging higher premiums based on genetic information, and using such information while hiring/firing/promoting.

How Does It Affect Me? 

New regulations introduced recently are called Title II of GINA.  

According to Reuters, "A new section called 'Genetics' explains Title II of GINA, which protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on genetic information, restricts employers` acquisition and disclosure of genetic information, and defines genetic information."

This means that the family medical history questions that are typically asked by your employer during health insurance enrollment this season is non compliant with GINA.

WSJ reports: "The recently issued guidelines prohibit health plans and employers from offering any financial rewards to any worker for participating in a health risk assessment that requests information about their family medical history."

This means that your employer may be discouraged to offer wellness rewards because of possible non-compliance penalties issued by the government.

What Can I Do?

In spite of the new penalties for because of GINA, the law is meant to help you.

It is meant to protect you as an employee from being discriminated against by your employer due to genetic information.

The best thing you can do is make sure you stay informed about your rights in order to ensure that your own employer is compliant.

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