One of the greatest scientific discoveries of the past century has to be the identification of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick back in 1953. In lay man’s language, DNA is the tiny particle within your body cells that contains explicit instructions guiding your growth and development as well as replication of your unique characteristics in your offspring.
Understanding this particular molecule has therefore opened up numerous avenues to gain insights on reproduction, hereditary diseases, genetic traits as well as a multitude of applications in crime scene detective work.
Over the years DNA testing has gained prominence as one of the most operating procedures in the medical field. Characteristics of a particular disease can be identified from a person’s DNA sample and even though the individual may not be suffering from that ailment, the information can be used to determine the possibility of him or her passing it along to his or her kids.
Such important scientific prediction can, therefore, go a long way in managing hereditary conditions such as sickle cell disorders, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis and some cancer-related ailments.
The application of DNA testing in the medical field is, therefore, an area where your insurance provider may come into play. The extent to which your insurance company is concerned with your DNA test information depends on the exact kind of examination being carried out.
Your physician may recommend that you conduct certain DNA tests perhaps to determine whether you are susceptible to a particular condition. Such medically directed tests usually fall within the cover stipulated by most insurance companies.
DNA tests carried out to determine paternity and genealogical lineage are however excluded from insurance cover since they are deemed as not directly relating to health and general well-being. In fact, most people normally prefer to pay for such tests from their pocket so as to avoid having the resultant information inadvertently disadvantaging them.
Note that insurance companies usually charge premiums based on an individual’s likelihood to get sick and file a claim. It, therefore, goes without saying that if you happen to have a genetic predisposition to certain diseases – and your insurance provider is privy to such information – your premiums will be higher than the average amount paid by other people.
There is, of course, the debate going on available insurance covers and their implications on pre-existing conditions that can be determined using DNA testing. It is a complex issue as it touches on government policies that can be altered depending on the administration in power. To safeguard individual Americans from prejudice due to results obtained from DNA testing, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act came in 2008.
This far-reaching legislation aims at preventing employers from denying opportunities to people whose genetic information background has been availed to them either by consent or through other means. It also helps to ensure that all employees enjoy health benefits regardless of their pre-existing conditions.