- Americans are increasingly open to genetic testing, with 60% saying they would consider it to assess their cancer risks, a new survey by McKesson and Ipsos reveals.
- Additionally, 44% of U.S. adults would trust artificial intelligence to diagnose cancer or recommend treatment. Men are more likely to trust AI than women, at 52% versus 36% respectively.
- That said, three-fourths of respondents believe a cancer diagnosis could eat up their savings, with 62% worried they wouldn't be able to afford treatment if diagnosed.
The results highlight consumers' growing acceptance of genetic testing and AI as both their availability and reliability have increased. According to a Health Affairs analysis, the genetic test market boasts about 75,000 different tests and is growing at a clip of about 10 new tests a day. Prenatal and hereditary cancer tests make up the bulk of the offerings.
Genetic testing company 23andMe is reportedly exploring consumer interest in an upscale service that would allow people to dive deeper into their DNA profile. And Geisinger CEO David Feinberg announced earlier this year that the system will start offering patients whole exome sequencing free of cost.
AI is also hot, with Google, Apple, IBM Watson and others throwing their hats in the ring. The AI-based medical imaging market alone is forecasted to reach $2 billion by 2023. Other potential use cases include disease management and detecting eye disease.
Companies developing such tools need buy-in from doctors and patients to document effectiveness and advance their use. But insurance often lags on new technologies, and out-of-pocket costs can limit access. Those barriers are only compounded by coverage gaps — a problem that would surely tick up if Affordable Care Act protections are rolled back as many Republicans in Congress hope.
According to the survey, cost and insurance coverage is the top factor (77%) people consider when thinking about cancer treatment. Just 13% of respondents believe insurance would cover all their cancer expenses, while 42% think will pay for a fraction of their costs. Of those surveyed, 7% lack health insurance.
Those ages 18 to 24 are most concerned about cancer's financial toll, with six in one saying they would forego treatment due to cost. That compares with 50% of millennials and 21% of people 65 and older.
Other factors influencing treatment are novel technologies and clinical trials (75%), support of providers and staff (74%), brand name facility (60%) and proximity to home (53%), the survey shows.