Would You Pay for a Crystal Ball?

Researchers find people are willing to pay out of pocket for predictive testing for disease

(RxWiki News) If you could take a test to find out if disease is in your future, would you take it? Researchers at Tufts Medical Center set out to answer that question.

In a survey of 1,463 individuals, the researchers found that about 76 percent of people would take and pay for a hypothetical predictive test depending on the precision of that test. The study, which appears online in the journal Health Economics, found that respondents would pay between $300 and $600 to know if they would eventually develop Alzheimer's, arthritis, breast cancer, or prostate cancer.

A breakdown of the study's findings shows that 87 percent of respondents are willing to be tested for prostate cancer, followed by 81 percent for breast cancer, 79 percent for arthritis, and 72 percent for Alzheimer's disease.

According to Peter J. Neumann, Sc.D., director of the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center, and lead author of the study, these findings illustrate how people appreciate both the intrinsic and practical value of information. Neumann cites his study as indication that further research should be conducted to assess the efficacy of various predictive tests in order to properly allocate funds to meet the demands of the public.

On May 28, 2008, The United States congress enacted the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, which prohibits health insurers and group health plans from using information that shows a patient has a predisposition to developing a disease to deny coverage or charge higher premiums.  The act also prohibits employers to use any genetic health information in the process of hiring, firing or promotion decisions.