Janet Cunningham has a strong family history of ovarian and breast cancer, and her sister has already tested positive for the genetic marker that puts her at heightened risk for the disease.
Now Cunningham wants to know whether she, too, has the marker. But if she tests positive, does that mean she and her three daughters could not get health insurance?
A federal law, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, or GINA, goes into effect Dec. 7, prohibiting insurance companies from using family medical histories or genetic testing to deny medical insurance or set rates.
The federal law will expand on a Texas law that prohibits use of genetic test results in determining large group medical insurance coverage and in hiring. The federal law further prohibits the use of family medical histories and expands protection to those who have individual insurance and smaller group plans.
For Cunningham, 48, of Fort Worth, that means her mother’s death from ovarian cancer and her sister’s fight with ovarian, breast and now uterine cancer cannot be used against her or her children.
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