Be Aware and Beware of Little Known Adverse Consequences of DNA and Genetic Testing Before You Do Such and Before You Gift It to Loved Ones

DNA“23 and Me” ads are all over the television.  So many people gifted this ancestry and their health genetic testing or other companies’ genetic testing to family and friends over the holidays.  Be aware and beware of little known adverse consequences of genetic testing that go way beyond a “Dear Amy” column where a woman said she and her husband decided to do a DNA test for fun and found out she and her father did not share DNA.  She said the news has “rocked her world,” and “broken her heart.”  She ends with “I would like to warn people about doing these tests and finding out about their DNA.  I wish I hadn’t explored mine.” The Sun Sentinel, January 26, 2018.

Amy responded that “it is important for people considering using one of these test kits to prepare themselves for–or at least try to imagine–a world-rocking shock. . . .”

The shock relating to interpersonal relationships is one that may be anticipated.  However, here are the little known adverse consequences of DNA and genetic testing that could change your future in ways you do not anticipate.

You may be opening Pandora’s Box by obtaining genetic information.

If you receive genetic information that shows you have an inherited gene that increases your risk or the risk of your family members for cancer or other diseases, a Federal law, GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) gives you some protections.  See their link.

According to GINA’s website, GINA makes it against the law for your health insurer to:

  • Consider family health history or a genetic test result as a pre existing condition
  • Ask or require that you have a genetic test
  • Use any genetic information they do have to discriminate against you, even if they did

not mean to collect it GINA’s protections apply to most health insurers. GINA applies to the health insurance plan yo receive through your employer (a group plan) as well as health insurance you purchase on your own (an individual plan) for you and your family. GINA also applies to Medicare supplemental policies for individuals who have insurance through Medicare.

According to GINA’s website, the health insurance protections of GINA do not apply to

  • Members of the US military who receive their care through the Tricare military health system
  • Veterans who receive their care through the Veteran’s Administration
  • The Indian Health Service
  • Federal employees who get care through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plans

These groups have policies in place that provide discrimination protections similar to GINA.

Now here is what to be aware of or beware of:

GINA’s protections for insurance apply only to health insurance.  They do not apply or protect you against genetic discrimination by companies that sell life, long term care, or disability insurance.

Some state laws may apply to these types of coverage. Check with your state insurance commissioner’s office for more information.

If the parents of your grandchildren find out that they have such inherited gene that increases their risk of cancer and other diseases, they may not be able to get life insurance, long term health insurance or disability insurance.  If you already have long term health insurance for yourself and find out you have an inherited gene that increases your risk or the risk of your family members for cancer or other diseases, you may be denied access to increased benefits.

The additional bad news may also include possible unnecessary medical interventions and testing for you and family members, emotional and psychological distress, loss of employment, loss of insurance, and family members’ ire at hearing they may be at increased risk.

Look at the “23 and Me” television ads for health and genetic testing differently now.  Maybe genetic testing ads should have disclaimers about warnings of “side effects”  like all of the drug ads we see on television.

Consider passing along this post to the parents of your grandchildren and other grandparents and those who need to be made aware.

 

Joy,

 

Mema

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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