Insurance companies are driving greater use of genetic testing, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It notes that non-invasive prenatal genetic screening provider Natera's sales increased from 88,000 in 2013 to 447,000 in 2016.
The Chronicle writes that companies are more willing to cover the costs of both non-invasive prenatal genetic screening for a wider group of patients as well as for hereditary cancers. "We are seeing more insurance companies cover genetic testing for two reasons: The prices are going down and the value is going up," Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a consulting firm, tells the Chronicle.
But the Chronicle says this has raised some concerns that insurance companies may have access to results. However, a number of insurance companies tell the paper that they aren't privy to the results, as those are between the patient and his or her physician, and the Chronicle notes that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prohibits companies from discriminating against patients based on genetic data.
There's also worry about how genetic tests are interpreted and how patients are educated about them. "You have to be sophisticated to interpret the results," National Human Genome Research Institute's Lawrence Brody says. The Chronicle adds that experts advocate that patients seek guidance from genetic counselors.