Background: Genetic counseling by a Genetic Counselor (GC) is a requirement prior to genetic testing for cancer susceptibility genes (GC-mandate policy) for some insurers. This study evaluated the impact of this policy from the patient perspective. Methods: Surveys were sent to individuals for whom their insurer ordered genetic testing for the cancer susceptibility genes BCRA1 and BRCA2 over a 1 year time period that spanned the introduction of a GC-mandate policy. Responses were assessed by time period (before/after policy introduction) and genetic test completion. Results: The surveys were completed by 1247/4950 (25.7%) eligible individuals. After policy introduction, there was no change in the proportion of respondents who completed genetic testing (p = 0.13) or had a mutation (p = 0.55). Overall decisional conflict (uncertainty or feeling uninformed) around genetic testing did not change after policy introduction (p = 0.16), but was significantly higher among respondents who did not complete genetic testing (p < 0.01). Although a larger proportion of respondents saw a GC after policy introduction (p < 0.01), fewer did so to better understand their test results (p < 0.01). The proportion of respondents who did not see a GC due to insurance issues/requirements and time restraints was higher among those tested after policy introduction or who did not complete genetic testing (p < 0.01). In multivariate analysis, respondents with a household income of $25,000 or greater were 3-times more likely to complete testing. Conclusions: A GC-mandate policy did not improve decisional conflict or increase the number of deleterious mutations identified and low-income respondents were less likely to complete testing. On the contrary, insurance requirements and time constraints may be preventing individuals at risk from receiving appropriate testing.
- Breast cancer susceptibility genes
- Cancer screening
- Genetic testing
- Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome
- Patient survey