How Much Does Genetic Counseling Cost?
Genetic counseling is the process of screening the genetic composition of a person to determine whether or not he is at risk for certain diseases or disorders. If you are in need of this type of service, your doctor will usually give you the name of a person who is in your network so that the genetic counselor and the doctor can communicate regarding your care. A genetic counselor is going to help conduct the appropriate tests based on your personal and family medical history. If there is a certain disorder or disease that runs in your family, the genetic testing will be done to see if you are at risk of the same health problems. If the doctor knows this information ahead of time, then your medical needs can be assessed very early. For example, the earlier that cancer is detected, the better chance you have of surviving. If you are genetically prone to cancer, you will receive regular screenings so that you can start treatment as early as possible if your do get it. Another use of genetic counseling is to prevent certain conditions from ever occurring in the first place. There are many preventative measures that can be taken to avoid diseases from ever showing themselves. The cost of genetic counseling may be well worth it to keep yourself healthy and to save on future medical bills.
How much is it?
- On average, the cost of a genetic counselor will depend on the lab procedure used, the amount of time involved, size of the gene being tests, number of genes and where the tests are being done. On average, the tests, along with the genetic counseling, can cost anywhere from as little as $200 to as much as $3,000 without insurance. If you have a health insurance policy, be sure to refer to your policy to see what is covered.
- Without any testing, a the counseling alone will be between $200 to $500. Most counselors will only order additional tests if they see something in your medical history that they do not feel comfortable with. This counseling session alone will greatly depend on the length and complexity of the appointment.
- According to childbirthconnection.org, the average tests will be between $100 to over $2,000. However, they claim that the average genetic test will be between $175 and $300.
What is going to be included?
- A genetic counselor is a trained professional who will help you understand and interpret your genetic information. This often includes genetic consequences during a pregnancy or for those who have a history of cancer. They will help you make decisions and show you the risks that may be involved.
- During a visit, the counselor will typically ask you about your background medical information and family history. If possible, they will more than likely ask you to bring in three generations of family history, along with pictures, to draw up a plan. If the counselor wants to confirm carrier testing, they may order a blood test to determine the chances. Once the counseling session and tests have been completed, they will provide you with an assessment, showing you the risks and odds of particular diseases. If diseases are noted, they will also provide you with information on how you can start screening and provide advice on what your next steps will be.
- Typical appointments will last two to three hours.
- The turnaround time, depending on the type of test, will usually be between one to four weeks.
What are the extra costs?
- Additional blood draws and specimen collections will add to the counseling fees. Each test can average $200 to $1,000.
- If shipping fees apply, this will have to be budgeted for as well.
Tips to know:
- Genetic tests are expensive because of the labor that is put into them. Since these tests are are so rare, laboratories are not used to conducting these types of tests.
- Those who have inherited diseases, such as dwarfism, cleft palate, club foot, diabetes, hemophilia, down syndrome, muscular dystrophy and sickle cell, should highly consider meeting with a genetic counselor before getting pregnant.
- NSGR.org can help you find a genetic counselor in your area.
- Genetic testing will not be 100% accurate and will not always tell if an individual will develop a disease.
- Before you head to an appointment, try to create a family tree to take with you.
How can I save money?
- Depending on your medical procedure, your health insurance policy may be able to help you. Refer to your health insurance company to see if you are covered. If you are looking for a new policy or want to switch, consider browsing through hundreds for free at eHealthInsurance.com.
- Do not settle on the price, but rather, focus on the reliability of the lab. Cheaper tests often can only pick up certain mutations. More expensive tests are known to help screen whole genes and identify mutations that may have not been identified with the family.
- If you do not have health insurance, discuss some cash options. Some offices may be able to provide a discount to those who can pay cash up front.