Genetic testing benefits gain traction, but only when the results remain private
- In a new survey, 65% of respondents said they would be interested in a genetic-testing benefit that's affordable and easy to perform, with private results. The Wamberg Genomic Consumer Survey polled 536 American consumers between the ages of 26 to 64.
- The survey also found that 52% of respondents would pay up to $250 for genetic testing, 26% want genetic testing only if it's free, and 9% wouldn't be interested in the benefit at all.
- When asked what's the most they would pay for genetic testing if their employer contributed $1,000 a year in a tax-free medical account, 33% of respondents would pay $100; 19%, $250; 8%, $500; and 4%, $1,000 or more. But 26% are unwilling to pay at all.
Growing consumer curiosity regarding genetic cancer and pre-natal screenings could be generating interest in genetic-testing benefits in the workplace. A tax-free medical account with a sizable contribution from employers could be an added incentive for workers to partake in testing to uncover genetic disease markers and take precautionary measures.
But employers that want to offer this benefit will have to carefully consider Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) requirements and keep such information between employees and their healthcare providers. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved a bill in March that would have allowed employers to penalize workers who refuse to submit to genetic testing for wellness program participation. But organizations like the AARP, March of Dimes, National Women’s Law Center, American Academy of Pediatrics and House Democrats opposed the bill over privacy concerns.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) regulations on wellness programs were supposed to balance the protections of GINA and the Americans with Disabilities Act but those rules have also seen backlash from advocacy groups. A federal judge recently informed the EEOC that it will have to reconsider two components of those rules after AARP brought suit against them.