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What is genetic information and why is it important? What are GINA’s health insurance protections? What are GINA’s employment protections?

What is GINA?

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is a federal law that protects individuals from genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment. Genetic discrimination is the misuse of genetic information. This resource provides an introduction to GINA and its protections in health insurance and employment. It includes answers to common questions and examples to help you learn. Choose from one of the boxes to the left to begin!


GINAhelp.org is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical or legal advice. GINAhelp.org and all of its partners, contributers, and affiliated organizations, companies, or entities disclaim responsibility for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a result of any actual or alleged libelous statements, infringement of intellectual property or other proprietary or privacy rights, or from use or operation of any ideas, instructions, procedures, products, or methods contained in the material herein.

Genetic Information

What is genetic information and why is it important?
The genetic information protected by the law includes family health history, the results of genetic tests, the use of genetic counseling and other genetic services, and participation in genetic research.
Why is genetic information important to me?
Genetic information helps you know and understand health conditions that run in your family, as well as your risk for developing certain health conditions or having a child with certain conditions. This information can help you make healthy lifestyle choices and important life and medical decisions. It also helps your doctor in providing you the best care possible.
How does GINA help me?
With GINA’s protections, you can feel more comfortable talking about family health history with your family and healthcare providers. You may choose to use genetic testing and other services to learn about health risks without fear of genetic discrimination.

GINA & Your Health Insurance

GINA makes it against the law for health insurers to request, require, or use genetic information to make decisions about:
  • Your eligibility for health insurance
  • Your health insurance premium, contribution amounts, or coverage terms

This means it is against the law for your health insurer to use a genetic test result or family health history as a reason to deny you health insurance, or decide how much you pay for your health insurance.

    In addition, GINA makes it against the law for your health insurer to:
  • Consider family history or a genetic test result a pre-existing condition
  • Ask or require that you have a genetic test
  • Use any genetic information they do have to discriminate against you, even if they did not mean to collect it

GINA & Your Job

GINA makes it against the law for employers to use your genetic information in the following ways:
  • To make decisions about hiring, firing, promotion, pay, privileges or terms
  • To limit, segregate, classify, or otherwise mistreat an employee

This means it is against the law for your employer to use family health history and genetic test results in making decisions about your employment.

It is also against the law for an employer to request, require, or purchase the genetic information of a potential or current employee, or his or her family members. There are a few exceptions to when an employer can legally have your genetic information. If an employer does have the genetic information of an employee, the employer must keep it confidential and in a separate medical file.