3.13.18: DNA Testing and Employee Wellness
Increasingly, U.S. workplaces are offering voluntary DNA testing as a way to understand risk and prevent potential health problems down the road.
Employees who know their risk are better able to develop a risk management plan with their healthcare providers, which in some cases will enable early cancer detection and outright prevention. The increase in 5-year survival rate for hereditary cancers caught at an early vs. advanced stage is striking: for breast cancer, for example, early-stage cancers have a 98 percent 5-year survival rate vs. 25 percent for advanced stage cancers.
Prevention and early detection reduce treatment costs along with saving lives. The estimated cost of treatment for breast cancer caught at an early stage is over 50 percent less than that caught at an advanced stage. Cost reductions are similar or meaningfully more for other hereditary cancers as well.
Employers and employees alike wonder about the privacy of genetic data and whether people who get tested risk being discriminated against based on their results. Employers should make sure their genetic testing partners are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), and implement technical safeguards to protect patient information. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) serve as federal protections to prohibit discrimination using genetic information for health insurance and employment status. Some state laws further protect against discrimination in the areas of life insurance, housing, and emergency medical services.
Personalized medicine and precision prevention are on the rise. Offering genetic testing services to your employees is just one way to put your organization on the path to better health outcomes and lower treatment costs.
With rising interest in DNA testing, expect more companies to offer kits at a subsidized discount or free-of-charge to their employees this year. But, as with any new wellness initiative, he said employers should make sure the workforce is interested in and comfortable with the idea of employer-subsidized DNA testing.
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Sources: Corporate Wellness, CNBC