Health insurance affected by genetic testing?


Question from MarshaB: I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39, my mother at age 29 (dead by age 31) and her mother at age 47 (dead by 49). I also have a cousin on my mother's side who was diagnosed at age 32. I am considering having genetic testing because I have a daughter who is now 23. What implications might there be on her getting health insurance in the future if in fact I am a carrier?
Answers - Lynn Schuchter I would strongly recommend that you consider genetic testing based on the information you have provided. You and your family may have hereditary breast cancer. This has important implications for your ongoing treatment and evaluation and that of your children. Currently there are fairly good measures and legislation that prevent discrimination in this regard. I think the decision about pursuing genetic testing should not be based on fear of discrimination in terms of health insurance, life insurance, or employment.
Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. It is certainly understandable to be concerned about these issues. In general, I usually explain to my patients that their own history of actual breast cancer usually already carries whatever weight they are concerned about when insurance companies view their family history. Whether a patient has a genetic mutation or not is often less important to an insurance company than the fact that they've already developed breast cancer. This is quite different than if your daughter were to be tested herself. But in terms of your daughter getting insurance, you have a history of breast cancer regardless of the results of the genetic testing.
Lynn Schuchter Marsha, your family history is very compelling. You have a number of relatives with breast cancer at a young age and regardless of whether you decide to do genetic testing (which I would recommend), aggressive surveillance of you and your family members for breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer is very important.
Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. I really agree with that.

On Wednesday, April 19, 2006, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Young Women and Breast Cancer. Lynn Schuchter, M.D. and moderator Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. answered your questions about the special concerns of young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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