The Affordable Care Act and Genetic Testing for Inheritable Cancer Syndromes: Impact on High-Risk Underserved Minorities

Genetic testing for inheritable cancer syndromes is becoming a critical part of preventive health services.. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Essential Health Benefits package addresses breast cancer susceptibility-gene testing for women who are unaffected by cancer. The absence of provisions for 1) men, 2) cancer patients, 3) other inheritable cancer syndromes, and 4) risk-reducing interventions are limitations of PPACA. We discuss provisions and limitations of PPACA pertaining to genetic testing and effects on high-risk populations, in particular minorities. The PPACA is the beginning of an ongoing process of incorporating genetic testing in the armamentarium of cancer prevention. Future efforts should focus on ensuring equitable access to genetic testing as a preventive service under PPACA to high-risk populations other than women. Consideration should also be given to provisions for risk-reducing interventions, especially in underserved minority populations, who are known to underutilize genetic testing and may have limited financial resources for medical intervention.