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Genetic testing: The next hot voluntary benefit?

Genetic testing could be the next big workplace voluntary benefit, according to the favorable responses in the Wamberg Genomic Consumer Survey, which shows that many people are keen about their employer providing the benefit for health purposes.

The survey queried 536 U.S. consumers between the ages of 26 and 64 with employer-sponsored health insurance, finding that a majority (65 percent) of respondents would be interested if their employer offered easy and affordable access to genetic testing for health purposes-provided the results were private and only shared between the employee and their doctor.

Moreover, many people are willing to help pay for such testing if it were a workplace benefit. The survey asked respondents, "What is the most you would pay for genetic testing if your employer contributed $1,000 per year to a tax-free account for your medical expenses?" A third (33 percent) say they would pay $100; 19 percent would pay $250; 8 percent would pay $500; and 4 percent would even pay $1,000 or more.

"For employers considering genetic testing as a voluntary benefit, these results show that their employees will likely see value in getting genetic testing-and they are willing to use their health spending account funds," says Wamberg's chief medical director Dr. Phil Smalley.

Not all want it as a voluntary benefit: 26 percent want genetic testing but only if it is free, and 9 percent would have no interest in an employer offer of access to genetic testing.

The survey also found that three-quarters (75 percent) of the respondents say that genetic testing can help people live longer and have better quality of life. A third (33 percent) have had genetic testing, and of those, 52 percent found the results useful.

For the first time, employers can offer the following tests and reports to help employees and care providers better manage health: whole genome sequence and report (WGx); whole exome sequence and report (WEx); cancer genomic profiling program (CGx); pharmacogenomics (PGx); and stem cell and cord blood banking.

"Genetic testing is a new health plan option from employers that helps to attract and retain great employees," says Tom Wamberg, the testing firm's chief executive. "Great employers are looking at health plans as part of the overall rewards and benefits program to give them a competitive advantage."

By Katie Kuehner-Hebert

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Author:Kuehner-Hebert, Katie
Publication:Benefits PRO
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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