Some of us are more likely to contract certain illnesses due to our genes. But, would we want our employer to know about those predisposed illnesses? Well, a bill proposed in Congress would allow your employer to ask that question. HR 1313 passed a vote in committee and is now before the whole House. It would allow your employer to require you to take a genetics test to determine if you were predisposed to certain illnesses. All 22 Republicans voted for the bill. All 17 Democrats voted against it. Observers expect it will be attached to the current new health care bill now working its way through Congress.
The bill, known as the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, would apply to employer health care wellness plans. If the employee refuses to take the DNA test, then the costs of his/her health care would rise 30%. See Time news report. Under current law, known as Obamacare, an employer could require an employee to pay more for insurance if s/he refuses to participate in an employer’s wellness plan. The idea is to improve the health of workers and thereby reduce health care costs for the employer. Wellness plans include more than just health insurance. But, there is little evidence that wellness programs actually improve the health of a workforce. And, there appears to be no direct correlation between genetic predisposition and a person’s health. But, that does not appear to stop House Republicans from advancing the proposal.
The 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prevents employers from discrimination against a person for a genetic predisposition toward certain illness. The GINA bars an employer from even asking workers to undergo a DNA test. So, I presume the current bill, if passed, would or could overrule the GINA.
Big Brother is out there, and he may be your employer. It is bad enough to be fired because you develop a serious illness. But, to be fired because you might develop a serious illness is more than most people can accept.