It is possible that similar preemptive actions will soon become a common occurrence among other individuals testing positive for the gene.
Hong Kong (PRWEB) June 04, 2013
Angelina Jolie made headline news recently as she publicly shared her elective preventative double mastectomy in the New York Times on the 14th of May, after testing positive for the BRCA mutation. A week later, a British businessman followed suit with the removal of his healthy prostate as tests showed he also had the BRCA2 mutation. In light of this, Kwiksure chose to examine the relationship between preventative cancer surgery and health insurance coverage.
The presence of a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations increase the risk of developing breast and prostate cancer and it is possible that similar preemptive actions will soon become a common occurrence among other individuals testing positive for the gene. However, where do insurers draw the line with such procedures and what will this mean for the future of health insurance policies?
The complete BRCA gene test can cost anywhere between US$300 to US$3000 but many medical insurance policies may not deem such tests as suitable for coverage. Some policies include wellness sections which generally provide coverage for any health tests up to a certain limit. However, this monetary amount is usually small and may not significantly lower the overall costs for the patient.
If a patient does then decide to have surgery, huge costs are often involved and it can be difficult to find an insurer to cover an elective surgery. Mastectomies are expensive as they are, without the additional hefty costs if a breast reconstruction surgery is then required.
The total for both surgeries can range from US$15,000 up to US$50,000. Without any signs of cancer present, preventative surgeries of this kind would usually counted as elective surgery and thus, omitted from coverage. However, there are some exceptional cases and coverage could be offered if a doctor deemed a patient high risk due to a history of cancer in direct family members.
There are local plans in Hong Kong that have deliberately excluded cancer care from coverage due to the high cost of treatment. However, other less extreme methods of cancer prevention can be undertaken besides prophylactic surgery, such as close monitoring and anti-cancer drugs.
When choosing a health insurance plan, Kwiksure recommends seeking advice from independent advisors if the individual is aware of cancer running in the family or has the mutation present.