DNA testing is a relatively new but increasingly important process in everything from health care to forensic science. DNA testing is used for several different matters, such as discovering whether you are a candidate for certain diseases, solving crimes and proving paternity.

With all of the areas that use DNA testing, if it has not already affected your life, it soon will. Therefore, it is crucial to find out whether health insurance covers DNA testing.

How is DNA Testing Used?

DNA is the abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid – the nucleic acid inside your cells that carries genetic information. It is the chemical material of genes. Identified in the 1950s, it is usually pictured looking like an entwined ladder. DNA is responsible for passing genetic traits from one generation to the next.

An actual DNA test is fairly simple. You can either give a blood sample or the examiner can simply rub a cotton swab around the inside of your mouth and cheek to collect a bit of saliva. The sample is then sent to a laboratory, which will give you the outcome or answer you seek. DNA can also be gathered from a strand of hair pulled from the root or other bodily fluids such as semen.

There are many benefits of DNA testing. For example, it can be used to determine if you carry the traits for a specific illness. Even if you do not personally have the disease, it can still be used to tell whether it is possible for you to pass along the trait to your offspring. Tests exist for diseases such as cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, sickle cell disorders, and certain hereditary cancers, as well as several other ailments.

Another use for DNA testing is to prove paternity. This has been utilized often in cases of determining child support and suspicions of infidelity.

Fans of television crime and courtroom shows are well aware of the use of DNA testing to help solve all kinds of criminal acts. It is used in missing person research and to identify remains, to name just a few uses. Also referred to as a digital fingerprint, DNA technology is considered to be more exact and provides a better match for evidence than traditional fingerprints.

Forensic science has become a very popular field of study and employment because people have developed an interest in the behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting the right culprit in jail. Genealogy has also become prevalent as people have come to realize the importance of ancestry and tracing of family trees. DNA is used to look for certain markers that indicate relation.

How Do Health Insurance Companies Handle DNA Testing?

Typically, most major insurance companies will cover a DNA test if you have a referral from your physician. Tests that have nothing to do with your overall health, such as a paternity test, might not be covered. It is best to check with your insurance provider for a definitive answer.

Due to concerns about discrimination, some people opt to pay for even covered DNA testing expenses out of pocket. This keeps the insurance company from being involved altogether and may protect you in the future.

A DNA test can cost anywhere from $200 for simple tests such as those to determine paternity, all the way up to several thousand dollars for more complicated procedures. In addition, you can purchase do-it-yourself DNA kits that allow you to perform tests in the privacy of your own home and then send the samples to a lab yourself. These typically cost less than $200 and can be found at many major pharmacies.

What Are The Disadvantages of DNA Testing?

Some people are concerned that, although we gain precision with DNA testing, we also lose a degree of personal privacy. Since DNA information is completely unique to an individual, if the information falls into the wrong hands, others will be able to access a huge amount of data about you and your health issues.

For example, this could be especially problematic if an employer viewed the information and used your genetic background to deny you a job or health benefits. However, there is a Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, passed in 2008, which says companies cannot show prejudice due to results found from DNA testing.

Another area of apprehension is the technology involved in DNA testing. The same procedure that can give you assurances about the health of a fetus can be manipulated to interfere with the natural order of life. This intrusion is called Eugenics and it has raised many ethical discussions.

Although there are drawbacks, DNA testing is considered to be a key enhancement to medical science. Perhaps the biggest benefit of DNA testing of all kinds is the peace of mind you get from knowing the answer with an absolute degree of certainty.