Benefits of Adding Genetic Testing to Your Company Health Plan
Health benefits offered from an employer often play a large role in the choosing of a job or staying with a company. Health benefits are a large part of a company’s expense, it costs to care for your employees. When searching for benefits, many companies shy away from new products, or services being offered that are outside of the norm. Multiple large name companies are now offering genetic testing as a health screening option to their employees with a large turn out of participating employees.
Although genetic disease risk screening is gaining popularity, and for good reason, some corporations are still wary of offering these services to their employees. Prevention is touted among the health and medical industries, but not many preventative services are covered more than annually with health care plans. Prevention education and implementation should start in places most frequented, like the workplace.
Genetic Disease Risk Screening: The Ounce of Prevention That’s Worth a Pound of Cure
Testing genetics sounds like an extensive process, but it can be done from the comfort of your employee’s primary care physicians office. There are substantial benefits that stem from simple, pain-free genetic screenings. Employees can learn about their general health, disease risks, and other genetic traits that give them the knowledge to be more proactive to mitigate possible health problems. An employee that knows they are predisposed to high cholesterol will take measures to ensure that they keep their cholesterol in check. While an employee who does not know they have a predisposition for high cholesterol will not take preventative measures and a myriad of health problems can arise. Taking precautions towards health on the part of employees equates to lower health care costs for companies overall.
Bringing awareness to disease risks empowers employees to take their health into their hands. In the case of genetic screening for disease risks, knowledge is power.
What are the Downsides to Including Genetic Testing in Your Company Health Care?
Genetic screening that is provided from a health care provider is often slightly more expensive than an at-home genetic test that is offered directly to the consumer. The benefit in a more expensive test is better results, and a physician can explain the results to your employees. The advantages outweigh the downside of a more costly test. Another possible downside of employers offering genetic screening to their employees is that employees will take the test results as facts. Some may not continue to get routine health care screenings if there aren’t any genetic factors that put them at risk for disease. This type of testing can not determine if an employee will or will not get a certain disease, it is just a wealth of knowledge to raise awareness for possible health concerns they may be predisposed to.
Genetics do play a part in health, but other factors such as lifestyle, diet and physical activity also have a large role in overall health. Adequately explaining how genetic screening is an additional health care service to add to routine medical exams will limit the possible neglect of employees health on their own accord. Any questions or concerns that an employee may have should always be directed to their primary care physician.
One of the hardest parts of any wellness program that companies and employers provide is employee participation. If the program and its benefits are thoroughly explained to employees, wellness programs can be extremely beneficial to employees and employers alike. Wellness programs that include genetic screening along with typical wellness program attributes are the best of both worlds. People are more likely to take advantage of a program that they understand. Participation in these programs can start with one employee and spread quickly through an office or corporation.
Ultimately, the choice to participate in genetic screening for disease risks is left to employees. Adding a genetic testing aspect to your companies health plan may have a slight financial downside at first. Over time and with increasing awareness these practices prove helpful to the betterment of employee health.