Genetic testing can sometimes raise questions about genetic discrimination – being treated differently by others (such as insurance companies or employers) based on your genetic test results. For example, some people are concerned that they might not be able to get health insurance because their genetic test results show that they have a higher risk to get cancer than the average person.

A federal law, called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), generally makes it illegal for health insurance companies, group health plans and most employers to discriminate against you based on your genetic information. This law generally will protect you in the following ways:

Health insurance companies and group health plans may not request your genetic information that is obtained through this employer health program.

Health insurance companies and group health plans may not use your genetic information when making decisions regarding your eligibility or premiums.

The Affordable Care Act also offers protections against health insurance discrimination based on pre-exisiting conditions, including genetic information. So when it comes to health insurance and employers, the vast majority of Americans are protected from any adverse outcomes.

However, it is important to be aware that these federal laws do not protect against genetic discrimination by companies that sell life insurance, disability insurance or long-term care insurance. Some states offer protections, but not all. If this is something you are concerned about, a Genome Medical genetic counselor can address questions you may have.