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DNA Testing – Do You Have the Right to Know?

Published December 11th, 2013 in Blog, What's in the News

Several years ago I was introduced to the budding genetic testing industry. This intrigued me, and I thought about the possibilities of what could happen to Autism, ADD/ADHD, heart disease and other chronic illness or disorders, if young individuals were able to take something as simple as B vitamins to improve methylation. Today because of DNA testing and companies like 23andMe (23andMe has had challenges with the FDA however I still have confidence in the information they have collected), researchers have evidence that 40 percent of the population are poor methylaters. Poor methylation contributes to most mood disorders and chronic illnesses such as heart disease.

I, and many others have been watching the news on the FDA action against 23andMe, with interest. The Alliance for Natural Health this week posted the following commentary on the case. (www.anh-usa.org/do-you-have-a-right-to-test-your-own-dna/)

DNA Testing: Do You Have a Right to Test Your Own DNA? FDA Says No!
December 10, 2013

There’s a reason your government is whittling away at your healthcare options and driving costs out of control—and not a good one.
America spends over $2.6 trillion a year (18% of our GDP) on healthcare. At the same time, government is tightening the regulatory reins on nutritional and natural methods to support health—an approach that isn’t lowering healthcare spending, but raising it!

On November 22, the FDA sent a warning letter to 23andMe.com to stop its inexpensive ($99 per test) “do-it-yourself” genetic testing service for health screening and ancestry purposes, because consumers could be “misled” and harm themselves by “self-treating.” For example, the FDA posits that an individual who learns they have a predilection for cancer would, as a result, undergo unnecessary preventive surgery, chemotherapy, and other “morbidity-inducing actions.”

The FDA’s argument is, quite clearly, a straw man: of course patients have to obtain medical advice before making major health decisions—it’s not as if consumers can go under the knife without significant medical consultation! The FDA’s true message is clear: because individuals can’t be trusted to make sound health decisions, they don’t have a right to private information on their own DNA.

It’s also worth noting that FDA action against 23andMe was sparked, in part, by a complaint by UnitedHealth Group, the largest publicly traded health insurer. UnitedHealth isn’t exactly an unbiased observer—they want access to information about your DNA. After all, if individuals were allowed to keep their DNA test data private, they wouldn’t have to share their results with insurers who, for example, could use an inherited health risk to deny insurance or charge exorbitant rates.

The FDA’s stance on DIY genetic testing could very well drive up healthcare costs. Besides premiums being raised on those forced to report DNA results to insurance companies, in-office testing is far more expensive. As tests are priced anywhere from $300 to $3,500, this could significantly add to the overall cost of healthcare.

So as you can see even with all the theatrical promises of the Obama Care act, there are still a great many individuals rights being trampled on. Most or all of the promises are far from reality. After all this is America and we are an industrious bunch when it comes to big corporations getting rich off the working person. In a commentary on health insurance deductibles and Obama Care promises the Alliance for Natural Health reported:

“When President Obama’s Affordable Care Act Section 1302(e)2(A) seemed to limit high-deductible insurance plans to those under 30 years old.
Patients relying on natural health physicians need high deductible plans—because many natural health physicians are not able to accept insurance payments. Paying cash to such doctors, but backing it up with a catastrophic policy, makes sense for natural health patients.

Fortunately, the Department of Health and Human Services listened to all the messages pouring in to keep high deductible policies. The regulations appear to allow them for everyone. Indeed, in some cases, the deductibles are now too high, so that for example a couple planning to have a baby might have to pay for all the delivery services out of pocket.

The new exchange policies are being marketed as private insurance policies, but they are very different from the private policies of the past.
Private policies in the past paid doctors more than Medicare, and much more than Medicaid. Insurance companies don’t reveal to customers what they pay doctors, but word is leaking out that in some cases the new exchange policies pay doctors barely more than Medicaid.

They also severely restrict the network of doctors and hospitals available to you. Leading healthcare analyst John Goodman has referred to the new policies as “Medicaid Lite.” It may be wise to look for traditional private insurance policies sold directly by the insurance company if you possibly can.

To your good health, it is priceless!

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