Know Your Genetic Predisposition to Various Diseases
And Let Your HSA Pay For It!
November 6, 2008
Vol. 4, Issue 10
Health Savings Accounts are a key aspect of what is known as “consumer-driven healthcare”, in which you the consumer – not the insurance company, your employer, or the government – are making the primary decisions about your own healthcare. When you have an HSA, you are in control – you can see the doctors you wish to see, get the kind of treatment you want, and get the tests that you need done in order to assess your risk and guide your decisions. Anything not covered by your insurance can be paid for tax-free from your HSA.
Having your genome scanned is now an affordable option that can give you valuable information about your risk for dozens of diseases, including breast cancer, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, psoriasis, and more. And you can pay for it from your HSA, with tax-free dollars.
Why Test Your Genes
Our genetic heritage is determined by our DNA, which contain thousand of genes that provide instruction to the cells on how to operate. When mutated genes are inherited, genetic disease may develop. Single-gene diseases such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s disease occur whenever the gene itself occurs. Multifactorial diseases are those in which there is a genetic “susceptibility” to getting the disease, but where environment also plays a part.
Many people choose to get their genome sequenced if there is a history of breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, or some other disease in their family. If you are proactive about taking care of your health, the information you receive could guide you to better eating or other lifestyle habits.
There are also companies that will test how you will respond to various prescribed medications, including whether you will experience side effects from antidepressants or pain relievers. Jennifer Mansell ordered a genetic test for her three year old son who wasn’t responding to some medication after his heart surgery, and received a laboratory report listing all the drugs her son couldn’t efficiently metabolize.
You Just Spit in a Cup
Getting a test done is easy. Order online, and in a few days a home test kit will arrive in the mail. Spit in the container, send it back, and in a few weeks you’ll have more details about what you’re made of than you ever thought.
Navigenics will screen your entire genome for 1.8 million genetic markers for $2500, and keep updating you as the science continues to expand for only $250 a year. 23andMe is a Google-backed company that will provide feedback on over 90 traits and diseases for just $400. And prices are continuing to drop.
Unless you have a single-gene disease, the results will only show risks, and will not tell you for sure whether you will get the disease. Most degenerative disease is the result of lifestyle and environmental factors in combination with your particular genetic risks. In most cases, lifestyle is the most important factor.
Remember that the foods you eat and the exercise you do actually changes which of your genes are expressed. You can read more about what I consider to be the world’s healthiest diet at www.ThePaleoDiet.com.
It’s Your Health
There is a great struggle going on over control of this nation’s healthcare. On one side are those who believe that the best way to manage costs and provide the best care is to give control to the individual. And of course on the other side are those who wish to have the government take control.
While knowing your own genome should be your right in the 21st century, certain powers don’t want you to have this ability. Access to genetic testing is already outlawed in New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
Currently we still have the right to take tax-free money from our HSA, get our genome scanned (or spend that money on any other medical treatment, diagnostic, or preventive service), without anyone from the government or any insurance company knowing anything about it or having any say.
Millions of people with HSA plans take advantage of this fact – getting alternative treatments like acupuncture or homeopathy, choosing their own tests so they can manage their bone density, cholesterol metabolism, or other health issues. And now, let’s add genetic testing to the list. The greater this number grows the greater our healthcare freedom will be.
Health, like wealth, is really about personal responsibility. Just as the government cannot make us all wealthy, similarly it cannot ensure your good health. Neither can the insurance companies and neither can your doctor. It is up to you. Knowing your own genetic risk factors might be valuable information that could add years to your life.
One word of caution – be careful about who you share your genetic test results with. Insurance companies would love to have this information, as would certain nefarious government agencies and other bad guys.
P.S. - By the way, anyone who wishes to get a 2008 HSA tax deduction must have their HSA-qualified health insurance in place no later than December 1st. Individuals can deposit up to $2900, and a family can deposit up to $5800. Spread the word!