Insurance denials and diagnostic rates in a pediatric genomic research cohort

Genet Med. 2023 May;25(5):100020. doi: 10.1016/j.gim.2023.100020. Epub 2023 Jan 28.


Purpose: This study aimed to assess the amount and types of clinical genetic testing denied by insurance and the rate of diagnostic and candidate genetic findings identified through research in patients who faced insurance denials.

Methods: Analysis consisted of review of insurance denials in 801 patients enrolled in a pediatric genomic research repository with either no previous genetic testing or previous negative genetic testing result identified through cross-referencing with insurance prior-authorizations in patient medical records. Patients and denials were also categorized by type of insurance coverage. Diagnostic findings and candidate genetic findings in these groups were determined through review of our internal variant database and patient charts.

Results: Of the 801 patients analyzed, 147 had insurance prior-authorization denials on record (18.3%). Exome sequencing and microarray were the most frequently denied genetic tests. Private insurance was significantly more likely to deny testing than public insurance (odds ratio = 2.03 [95% CI = 1.38-2.99] P = .0003). Of the 147 patients with insurance denials, 53.7% had at least 1 diagnostic or candidate finding and 10.9% specifically had a clinically diagnostic finding. Fifty percent of patients with clinically diagnostic results had immediate medical management changes (5.4% of all patients experiencing denials).

Conclusion: Many patients face a major barrier to genetic testing in the form of lack of insurance coverage. A number of these patients have clinically diagnostic findings with medical management implications that would not have been identified without access to research testing. These findings support re-evaluation of insurance carriers' coverage policies.

Keywords: Access to testing; Denials; Genomic medicine; Insurance; Research testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage*