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Pre-Existing Genes

If the new healthcare bill in the US becomes law, people could be denied coverage because of their genes, Wired writes.

The bill, which passed the US House of Representatives yesterday in a 217-to-213 vote, eliminates a provision of the Affordable Care Act that protects people with pre-existing conditions. Wired notes that the ACA specifically prohibited people from being denied coverage because of conditions uncovered through genetic tests.

However, the new bill allows insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions more. But just what is a pre-existing condition, particularly from a genetic standpoint, isn't clear. "The more you know about genetics, the more conditions start to look pre-existing," Wired writes.

Wired also notes that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act protects people from being discriminated against by employers or health insurance companies because of genetic testing results, but doesn't protect people once they have symptoms. That's where some ACA provisions stepped in, but if they are eliminated, then a gap between "predisposition and manifestation" opens up, notes Harvard Medical School's Robert Green.

If this bill becomes a law, Wired predicts more GINA-centric lawsuits "because GINA will be the only way to force insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions."