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Physicians, Patients Talk Genetic/MDx Tests

The Los Angeles Times this week reports on a new UnitedHealth Group study that "estimates spending on genetic tests at $5 billion in the US in 2010," adding that it "could reach $25 billion within a decade." The LA Times says that the increasing availability of genetic tests and molecular diagnostics "offers the promise of earlier detection of disease and more personalized treatments that could wring substantial savings from the nation's $2.6 trillion-a-year healthcare tab." However, the LA Times adds, some "worry that those benefits may be outweighed by indiscriminate use of genetic testing."

The research arm of UnitedHealth surveyed physicians and patients on their attitudes toward genetic testing, and estimates that its members in private plans, Medicare, and Medicaid "spent $483 million on genetic tests in 2010, with 40 percent related to infectious diseases, 16 percent for cancer, and the rest for inherited disorders and other conditions." UnitedHealth also found that "more than half the 1,506 consumers surveyed … were concerned about their physician's ability to know when a genetic test is needed and interpret it, the confidentiality of test results and about possible discrimination," the LA Times adds.

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