Parents of newborns will have to weigh the pros and cons of such genetic screening tests, though preventative action may cut medical costs significantly in the long run.
Hong Kong (PRWEB) July 03, 2013
According to the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), one out of 4000 babies born in Hong Kong will be diagnosed with Inborn Errors of Metabolism (IEM). These metabolic disorders can lead to several health defects but recent research has developed a genetic screening test to detect IEM at an early stage. In light of this, Kwiksure chose to examine whether this new genetic screening program would be covered by a health insurance policy.
IEM disorders are often caused by a defect in the metabolic pathway, typically arising from a lack of an enzyme to process materials through to the end products, leaving excess metabolic intermediate products in the body which can result in several health defects.
Many IEMs can have a severe impact on the development of an infant and can lead to mental retardation and even death in extreme cases. Recently CUHK, together with sponsorship from the Joshua Hellmann Foundation for Orphan Disease (JHF), developed a Newborn Metabolic screening program designed to test for 30 different metabolic conditions as soon as the a baby is born.
Upon early diagnosis, appropriate preventative action, such as taking medication or diet adjustments, can minimize the manifestation of symptoms later in life. These screening tests will cost around $800 HKD however, as the test would be classed as a genetic screening program, the chances of a health insurance policy covering the tests would be unlikely.
A senior insurance adviser at Kwiksure explained the reasons behind this and as this screening test would be considered as a preventative test, it would likely be deemed as medically unnecessary by the insurance provider and therefore no coverage would be provided.
Furthermore, should the baby be found to have an IEM disorder but has yet to show any symptoms, an insurer will also be unlikely to pay for treatment if required. There are exceptions made by a few insurers, but this is quite rare.
Some maternity insurance policies may provide free newborn insurance coverage for a limited time but tend to only cover diseases that are already present at birth. Parents of newborns will have to weigh the pros and cons of such genetic screening tests, though preventative action may cut medical costs significantly in the long run.