How Much Does a Genetic Test Cost?

Written by: Staff

On the market, there are hundreds of genetic tests available, and these tests can do everything from determining the risk of having a child with a genetic disease to screening an unborn baby.

genebank2 by CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture, on Flickr
genebank2” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture

How much does genetic testing cost?

The cost of a genetic test can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $2,000 without insurance, depending on the nature and the complexity of the test.  This is according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.  This cost will increase if more than one family member needs to be tested and/or more than one test is required.

Breast cancer genetic testing, which looks for the BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2 gene, can cost upwards of $3,500, but according to Fox Business, 95 percent of the women who have this test will pay about $100.

In most cases, health insurance will cover the procedure as long as it’s recommended by your doctor.  Since all health insurance companies will have different policies, it’s important to know which tests are going to be covered and what you will be responsible for since all tests will be different.  For instance, Blue Cross has been said to not cover the tests.  Check with your insurance company first because some may require a letter from your doctor, along with a detailed family history report.

At-home kits are also available for less than $250.  For example, with 23andMe, an at-home kit will cost $199 and it will tell you if you are a carrier for certain inherited conditions.  Forbes says that the direct-to-consumer tests will only look at common markers, rather than read the variations in the gene, and it can be hard to interpret without the help of a doctor.

Type of TestAverage Price
BRCA Genetic Test$500 to $3,500, depending on type
Celiac Genetic Test$2,000
Connective Tissue Disorder Genetic Test$450 to $1,500+
Harmony Genetic Test$800 to $2,000
Hemochromatosis Genetic Test$250
Huntington's Genetic Test$1,500
Microarray Genetic Test$1,500 to $3,000
Panorama Genetic Test$150
Wardenburg Syndrome Genetic Test$850

Genetic testing overview

Depending on the genetic test, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to receive your results.  Prenatal tests, for instance, will be much quicker, since it’s essential to the pregnancy.

These tests can test for more than 1,000 conditions, including cystic fibrosis, kidney disease and ovarian cancer.  These tests can study single genes to identify variations or analyze chromosomes to see if there are any large genetic changes, such as having an extra chromosome.  Biochemical genetic tests are able to study the level of proteins to determine if there are any abnormalities.  With this test, the practitioner will either need a blood sample, hair, amniotic fluid (the fluid surrounding the fetus during the pregnancy) or a simple cheek swab or in case it’s a fetus, the amniotic fluid or placenta tissue will be required.  This can be done in either a hospital, clinic or your doctor’s office.  These samples will then be sent off to a laboratory for analysis which will check for any genetic alterations.  If the results are positive, the doctor will be able to discuss the outcome and what it means to you.

During a common newborn screening test, the baby’s heel will be pricked with a needle to take a small blood sample, and if the results are positive, the parents will know about the results.

If it’s an at-home test, you will mail in a saliva sample, and about eight weeks later, you will receive a report.

 What are the extra costs?

Before a test is even considered, your doctor will refer you to a genetic counselor, who will be able to understand and make a decision in regards to the tests.  During this visit, they will discuss if a test is right for you, which tests may be used, the accuracy of these tests and what happens if the test results do come back negative. Most genetic consultations will cost about $150 to $250 per hour, and the length of the session will depend on the complexity of the case.

As mentioned earlier, some results can take up to a few months to receive the results.  In some cases, labs will offer a rush service for a premium fee, usually about $300 to $550 extra.

With a newborn screening, if the initial test comes back positive, additional tests may be required to determine the genetic disorder.

Tips to know

According to the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, employers and even health insurers can’t discriminate against you using genetic testing information.

What are the benefits?  A genetic test has the potential to determine if a gene mutation is present.  It can also provide a sense of relief to those who are either uncertain or need to make an informed decision about their health care.  For instance, if the results were to come back negative, then additional tests and checkups wouldn’t be necessary; however, if the result were to come back positive, additional treatment and monitoring options may be necessary.

How can I save money?

If you don’t have insurance, consider asking for a cash discount. Many labs and hospitals will offer discounts to those who pay in full up front.

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