The Effect of Health Care Reform on Genetic Discrimination

Kristin Marshall


Recent health care reform shook the American political system and, once implemented, will change the way Americans interact with the health care system and medical providers. However, seemingly lost among the debate is the potential impact of those with significant medical concerns embedded within their genetic material. As technology and human willingness to investigate genetic diseases grows, it is imperative that the effect of any health care legislation on individuals with genetic diseases be fully understood, examined and considered when debating reform and implementation. Through intensive analysis of public law texts, Congressional Research Service reports and other non-partisan findings, the interaction of genetic non-discrimination legislation (mainly, P.L. 110-233) and the health care bill, formally titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-148), will be closely analyzed to discern each laws’ impact on individuals with preexisting, genetic conditions. The research shows that both pieces of legislation address the controversial practice of underwriting and that each establishes limitations on setting and adjusting premiums. However, the scope of the two laws is different but do not amend each other. Furthermore, many report that court interpretation of the interaction is needed to better reflect the intention of each, clearly indicating that the debate surrounding health care reform is far from finished.


Discrimination; Genetic; Health

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