In the recent years, genetic testing has become operational at large scale in hospitals and health care units. At present, there are nearly 900 - 1000 methods of genetic testing available for infants, children and adults. In the process of testing the genes, medical laboratory experts examine changes in a person's genes. The changes in the structure of proteins in the genes give information about alterations in the DNA or chromosomes or the gene makeup. Negative or abnormal genetic tests can indicate a genetic disorder in an individual.
Couples who are planning for kids can use genetic testing to ensure that risk of any genetic disorders or similar complications in them can be at best avoided in the start of the pregnancy stages. In prenatal testing, genetic complications can be identified in the baby at a very early stage and efforts can be made to cure them. Every year millions of babies are genetically tested to ensure a disease free life. Though the importance of genetic testing has gained significant media attention, its average cost is a factor that has also faced media scrutiny.
Genetic Testing Cost Analysis
There are several factors that affect the cost of genetic testing. The nature of the test and its complexity determines the cost. The age of the individual going for the test also plays a big role in determining the cost of genetic testing. In general, the cost of testing ranges between as low as US$100 to as high as US$3000. In many cases, it becomes necessary for some or all members of the family to be tested and that can increase the total cost. For infants, the cost of genetic testing can be anywhere between US$15 - US$60. When it comes to testing genes, they are significantly costlier than other type of tests.
The high cost associated to genetic tests can be attributed to the fact that compared to other laboratory tests, testing genes is more labor intensive, requires superior technology and it is a time taking process. The results of a laboratory are assessed carefully many times before handing over the reports to the doctor because genetic testing requires deep and careful analysis. Besides these reasons, another prominent cause of high pricing of these tests is that there are additional costs involved in the testing. This majorly includes shipping costs and fee charged for genetic counseling. It is indeed essential for you to take help of a genetic counselor because he or she can help you to understand various issues related to genetic testing like benefits, health concerns, safety measures, to just name a few.
Does Medical Insurance Cover Genetic Testing Costs?
Genetic testing and screening in special labs and hospitals can cost you thousands of dollars and if you include them in your medical insurance claims, it can ease the financial burden. In case, your results are positive, the insurance company may be ready to help you in the future, if you suffer from any potential disorder. However, if you pay through insurance, it will be kept as a record and that can be a cause of medical discrimination in many ways for your family members because the company may analyze your results differently, denying medical cover to your children or relatives, in several cases. Moreover, if an insurance company is aware of the fact that you went for genetic testing, it will by default ask for results.
The fact is that not many insurance companies are well aware of the right method to asses genetic tests results and so they can be suspicious of any individual who is going through it. They ultimately want to be on the safer side. If on the other hand, you pay on your own, there is no complexity in the issue and you have your privacy. Insurance also becomes complex in genetic testing because not all companies cover all types of genetic tests. You have to understand polices and laws of the insurance company before including genetic testing under insurance claims. If the company eventually doesn't cover your insurance costs, you may end up wasting your time in filling long insurance forms.
A geneticist or a doctor working with a genetic counselor, oncologists and cardiologists who are acquainted with knowledge about genetic testing can advise you to go for these tests. Generally, medical professionals who are unsure if they should ask their patients for genetic tests, advise them to go for counseling, which is a better way to guide patients. If you are not satisfied with your doctor's explanation if you should go for this expensive test, ask him or her to help you in finding a good genetic counselor. Your family doctor is ideally the individual who should recommend you these tests. It all depends on your confidence and trust in your doctor. If you are comfortable with your family doctor's explanations, there is no issue of genetic counseling and you can go for tests.