Major insurance companies are declining to pay for genetic tests made popular by Angelina Jolie’s call for women at risk to take control of their health.
Medical researchers call it the “Angelina Effect,” the surge in demand for genetic testing attributable to movie star Angelina Jolie’s public crusade for more aggressive detection of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
But there’s a catch: Major insurance companies including Aetna, Anthem and Cigna are declining to pay for the latest generation of tests, known as multi-gene panel tests, Reuters has learned. The insurers say that the tests are unproven and may lead patients to seek out medical care they don’t need.
That’s a dangerous miscalculation, a range of doctors, genetic counselors, academics and diagnostics companies said. While they acknowledge that multi-gene tests produce data that may not be useful from a diagnostic standpoint, they say that by refusing or delaying coverage, insurance companies are endangering patients who could be undergoing screenings or changing their diets if they knew about the possible risks.