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Genetic testing privacy threat?

In the context of reducing health insurance and health care costs, corporate wellness programs that both encourage employees to be healthier and also reduce the insurance premiums the employees pay are of great value to the individual. For this reason, it might be expected that federal bill H.R. 1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, would have broad support. It includes a controversial section, however, that challenges the privacy rights of employees who undergo genetic testing. Supporters of the bill feel employers already have the right to require genetic testing for any employee that volunteers for their wellness program. Some who are opposed to the bill point out that there is an existing act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), that keeps employee genetic testing voluntary and the results anonymous. H.R. 1313 specifically states that GINA and other protections will not apply to genetic testing conducted as part of a workplace wellness program or programs relating to health promotion or disease prevention. This becomes of vital interest to employees who may be able to reduce their health insurance premiums by as much as 50 percent if they join the company wellness program.

ISSUE: Should mandatory genetic testing be integrated into company wellness program participation?

AHHA strives to maintain a neutral position on issues. For those interested in this matter, the following Pro and Con articles below were selected to get you started on your research.

H.R.1313 – Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (3/2/17)

House Committee Passes H.R. 1313 Allowing Employers to Collect Genetic Information Under Workplace Wellness Programs (3/11/17)
The National Law Review

Employees who decline genetic testing could face penalties under proposed bill (3/11/17)
by Lena H. Sun
The Washington Post

ASHG Opposes H.R.1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (3/8/17)
The American Society of Human Genetics

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