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Genetic Testing Pushes Buttons

July 1, 1998
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Related Topics: Medical Benefits Law, Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Policies and Procedures, Featured Article, Benefits
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As more employers consider the use of genetic testing, HR professionals should expect a variety of reactions-from fear to distrust and anger. Below are some common perceptions and concerns about genetic testing that were revealed in a study of 332 members of genetic support groups (all of whom had one or more of 101 different genetic disorders).

  • Individuals who say they were asked about genetic diseases or disabilities on an application for health insurance: 40%
  • People who claim they or a family member were refused health insurance as a result of a genetic condition in their family: 22%
  • People who say they wouldn't want their insurer to know if they were tested and found to be at high risk of a genetic disorder: 83%
  • Adults with a life insurance policy in the United States: 70%
  • Those paying higher-than-standard premiums on a life insurance policy: 5%
  • Individuals who claim they or a family member were denied a job or "let go" because of a genetic condition in the family: 13%
  • People who say they were asked about genetic diseases or disabilities on a job application: 7%
  • Those claiming they were denied or "let go" from a job due to genetic information: 3%
  • Those who say they haven't revealed genetic information to their employers for fear of losing their jobs or insurance coverage: 17%
  • Those refusing a genetic test for fear of discrimination: 9%
  • Respondents claiming they've been genetically discriminated against: 43%
  • Individuals who were asked about genetic diseases or disabilities on an application and then refused health insurance: 47%

SOURCE: Human Genome Education Model Project of the Georgetown University Child Development Center and the Alliance of Genetic Support Groups, 1996.

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