Privacy Risk Calculator

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Employers after DNA: GINA does not protect like you think.

See this CBS News article: Want A Job In Akron? Hand Over Your DNA

The idea that GINA protects genetic tests from being held or used by employers and insurers is wrong. Genetic tests ordered by your doctor at any other time–when you are NOT seeking a job or insurance–can be collected and used by your employer and insurer to make decisions about you.

Lobbyists for the insurance industry and employers got this massive loophole into the bill, eliminating the intended consumer protections. Instead GINA should have forbidden employers and insurers to ever collect or access genetic tests.

This is one of the key reasons we need Congress to restore OUR rights to control our personal health information, so WE can make sure employers and insurers do not get our genetic records. Genetic information is so sensitive it should ONLY be seen by health professionals directly involved in our treatment, or if we choose to participate in research and share it.

Genetic Privacy Debate hits Major League Baseball

The story highlights the use of DNA testing by ‘employers’–Major League Baseball franchises. Baseball tests to verify the ages and identities of players from Latin America, but the test samples can also be used to detect familial genetic dieseases such as ALS (which Lou Gehrig had).

• “DNA contains a host of information about risks for future diseases that prospective employers might be interested in discovering and considering,” said Kathy Hudson, the director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center and an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University. “The point of GINA was to remove the temptation and prohibit employers from asking or receiving genetic information.”

The big problem is that the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) does not stop employers or insurers from receiving or using genetic information. It isn’t enforceable.

Baseball players are not the only ones whose DNA and genetic tests can be used against them–the same thing can happen to all of us.

According to GINA, employers and insurers can’t use genetic tests to discriminate against employees or enrollees in health plans, but there is no way to tell whether they do or not. Employers and insurers do not have to inform us if they have copies of our genetic or DNA records.

• Do you think an employer is going to tell you were passed over for a promotion based on your DNA?

GINA is toothless–it forbids bad behavior but there is no way to enforce it.

And Americans’ genetic privacy is not protected by HIPAA. HIPAA makes it impossible for any of us to prevent OUR sensitive health information from being used by millions of ‘covered entities’ and ‘business associates’ for purposes we would never agree with–including using genetic tests to discriminate againts us.

Face Book users control who sees the personal information they post on their walls, but Americans can’t control who sees their electronic health information. What’s wrong with this picture?

The rules for spending $19 Billion on health IT are being written now. Now is the time we must press to restore control over OUR personal health data.

Stay tuned–sign up for our alerts and we’ll tell you what you can do to save privacy.