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Consumers Want, Will Pay for Predictive Health Tests

DNA fragment (Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

In a national survey conducted by researchers at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, consumers indicated they place a high value on information to predict their future health, and may be willing to pay out of pocket to get it. The they survey was funded by the Institute for Health Technology Studies. The findings appear online in the journal Health Economics (paid subscription required).

The study examined individuals’ willingness to take and pay for hypothetical predictive laboratory tests in which there would be no direct treatment consequences. The randomized, population-based Internet survey of 1,463 respondents in the U.S. shows about three-quarters (76%) indicated that they would take a hypothetical predictive test to find out if they will later develop Alzheimer’s disease, breast or prostate cancer, or arthritis.

Responses to the survey varied according to information provided about the disease risk profile and the accuracy of the hypothetical test. The willingness to be tested was greatest for prostate cancer (87% of respondents), followed by breast cancer (81%), arthritis (79%), and Alzheimer’s disease (72%).

On average, respondents were willing to pay $300 to $600, depending on the specific disease and the accuracy of the test. The researchers also found the amount of money patients were willing to pay out of pocket for tests increased with income levels, and was significantly higher for breast and prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease than for arthritis.

The findings also indicate that gender, age, and education influence test participation. About a quarter (24%) of individuals sampled elected not to take the predictive test. Generally, older respondents, women, those with a bachelor’s or higher degree, and those with healthier behaviors were less inclined to undergo testing, even if it were free. Reasons for not wanting the test included the cost of the test, living with the knowledge of one’s disease risk, and the lack of preventive measures.

The findings suggest as well that test results may alter future behavior. When faced with positive test results, individuals indicated they would change certain aspects of their lives, such as spending more time with loved ones (51%), putting their finances in order (48%), or traveling more (31%).

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