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The sole purpose of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is to provide employment and discrimination protection for individuals necessitating and desiring genetic testing.  Although the provisions stated in the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 specifically lists many circumstances in which it guards against genetic discrimination by insurance providers and employers, the penalties for the companies may not be a suitable deterrent. Thus, we will peer in with a different set of goggles revealing deficiencies and other loopholes.  By doing so, thereby actualizing its function, the compromise of the majority of stakeholders.  Does the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act 2008 truly serve you?

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For example, if either the insurance company or employer denies services, goods, or employment the fine and penalties may be more economic for them to be fined than to comply with the law. Such as, if an insurance company is confronted to be fined from $300,000 per incident when noncompliance is intentional and a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $500,000 (2013, Erwin) for denying membership or paying potentially upwards of millions of dollars of healthcare services, they may elect to simply pay the fine instead. Likewise, the employer is also concerned with financial liability; they may be tempted to use existing loop holes in the law to obtain genetic information to minimize or eliminate areas of additional and avoidable cost such as employee benefit . For example, an employer can obtain genetic information when an employee has already authorized the release of another test. This would be possible because the insurance company is not mandated to separate specific information when sending the information to the employer (Genetic Alliance). The medical record is sent in entirety. With this information, they can scrutinize the records for indication(s) that a potential employee is high risk for illness and not offer employment, promotion and such.  The examples illustrates how widely porous the law can be, but more importantly the extent of the illusion the law may represent.

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Further investigation resulted in finding areas the law does not extend protection: employees of companies with 14 and less employees, military and Indians, federal employees, life insurance, disability members, and long term care insurance members possibly vulnerable (www.genome.gov). This task is challenging as I am seeking disclosed information that is concealed and the royal blood of insurance companies and organizations like the National Association of Manufactures whose very concern is to minimize the cost of liabilities of the workforce and capitalize on production and revenues generated by the workforce. It is important to know the strategies that can be used against us, hence marrying the law and our own initiative to protect our rights and democracy.  The loopholes draws a clearer picture of how the federal law excludes many select populations leaving them susceptible to economic harm.

Take into consideration if one is discriminated; if and what are the protocols? The Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 took over one decade to become law. Like the long list of cases that an employee or insurance provider must adhere to, an individual must subsequently satisfy an extensive list of conditions. In court, if one is being indicated, he or she is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, the individual is responsible for proving that the insurance provider or employer has violated the Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. Such as, all documentation and concrete evidence must be presented. This task may not always be linear, indisputable, or easy to facilitate. In fact, it may challenge one’s endurance and require significant time and effort. Thus, the very act of declaring discrimination in accordance to the Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 may deter people from declaring violation and forfeiting the opportunity to claim protection because of the possible damage sustained at the expense of being unsuccessful at proving the violation.  The reverse can occur as the deterrent may be pressed upon the violated individual and in this case the initiation could be curtailed, simply from the design of the law.

By understanding the avenues of GINA, we can begin to understand how the provisions can be beneficial to us, in a time exposure of your DNA is ubiquitous and simultaneously perceiving how the formulation of GINA is a result of collaboration between of politicians, lobbyists,  and power biotechnological companies.   In other words, suggesting that the loopholes are intentional, not a mishap, as it is a deliberate compromise on the behalf of the stakeholders that seek to maximize the opportunities to advance the financial gain of DNA data.

Erwin, C. (2008). Legal update: living with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Genetics in Medicine : Official Journal of the American College of Medical Genetics, 10(12), 869–873. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1097/GIM.0b013e31818ca4e7

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