NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – San Francisco-based Veracyte today announced that Blue Shield of California has issued a positive coverage policy for the firm's Afirma Gene Expression Classifier.
The Afirma GEC employs a 142-gene signature to identify benign thyroid nodules in patients whose fine needle aspiration biopsies are deemed indeterminate following traditional cytopathology review and thus face a potentially unnecessary diagnostic surgery. Blue Shield of California, one of the largest Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organizations, classified the genomic test as medically necessary for use in identifying those patients.
The decision makes the thyroid cancer test available to approximately 3 million people, effective immediately. The test is now available to more than 140 million people, the firm said in a statement. Additionally, the Hawaii Medical Services Association, also affiliated with BCBS, published a draft policy indicating it intends to cover Veracyte's genomic test beginning in February 2015.
Blue Shield of California joins Cigna, Humana, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, and the federal Medicare program in offering coverage for the test.
"These new policies further underscore the value of the Afirma GEC — proven in multiple, peer-reviewed, published studies — in helping patients with thyroid nodules avoid unnecessary surgery," Bonnie Anderson, CEO of Veracyte, said.