With the rise of medical advancements for seniors it’s always good to understand how a medical treatment or procedure can have long term effects.

For example, there are medication prescriptions that many seniors take that can have adverse side effects over time. For this reason it is always important that a senior ask how a potential treatment could have consequences in the long term.

In this article we want to take a few moments to share with seniors what they need to know about genetic testing.

We’re going to explain:

  • What genetic testing is
  • The types of testing available
  • If a genetic test can prevent disease
  • How it helps with preventative care
  • How Medicare can cover the costs of testing

For starters, what is genetic testing?

Genetic testing started in the 1990s when the University of Pennsylvania first used it to screen for breast cancer as a preventative measure. Genetic testing identifies specific genes that are more susceptible to mutating and leading to disease.

What types of genetic tests are available to seniors?

These tests cover a wide variety of illnesses and there are different types of genetic tests.
There are now over 2,000 different illnesses that can be identified using genetic tests. Of which the most common are listed below:

  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Psoriasis
  • Dyslexia
  • Other types of Cancer

Is genetic testing able to prevent diseases like cancer?

This form of preventative testing cannot prevent diseases like cancer. But what it can do is identify that an individual has a gene in their DNA that has been linked to cancer due to years of gene research and study.

For example in the case of breast cancer, females are much more susceptible to cancer  when the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are found in their DNA.

What’s the benefit of genetic testing if it cannot prevent a disease?

This form of preventative testing can identify a potential life threatening disease before it ever shows signs or symptoms. Although it can’t directly prevent a disease it will help an individual seek a preventative treatment from a licensed physician.

By following a preventative treatment from a licensed physician, an individual can prevent a disease from becoming a life threatening illness.

Is a genetic test always accurate?

Genetic tests are not always accurate. For this reason, a licensed physician may request a second test or order additional tests which are not genetic to confirm what is found in a genetic test.

How can a Senior get Medicare to cover the cost of their genetic test?

Some genetic tests are covered by Medicare as long as you meet their requirements. For most genetic tests the requirement is that the family has a prior history with the illness. In other cases including the genetic test for diabetes the requirements are much more lenient.

We’ve detailed more information in an article Requirements For Genetic Tests Medicare Will Cover

Genetic tests will only be covered for seniors who have Medicare Part A and Part B. This will also require that the senior has the order for the genetic testing processed through their primary care physician. If a senior orders the genetic test independently without their primary care physician the test will not be covered by Medicare.

What is the cost of a genetic test?

Genetic tests range in cost from as low as a few hundred dollars to over $2,000. The cost varies depending on the type of test and the provider of the test.

From the FTC Fact Sheet on Genetic Testing

Validity of Genetic Tests According To The FDA And CDC

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the manufacturers of genetic tests; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which promotes health and quality of life, some of these tests lack scientific validity, and others provide medical results that are meaningful only in the context of a full medical evaluation.

Claims Of Genetic Tests

Having a particular gene doesn’t necessarily mean that a disease will develop; not having a particular gene doesn’t necessarily mean that the disease will not.

To learn more about the benefits of genetic testing visit these links:

The History of DNA Testing
Is Genetic Testing Worth It For Seniors?
Why Seniors Benefit The Most From Genetic Testing
Can Medicare 100% Subsidize Genetic Testing?

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