Not a week goes by when we don’t hear of a story — either in our personal lives or in public media — about someone discovering that they have a high-risk genetic mutation only after they have been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.[1, 2] Each one of these cases is a missed opportunity for us — as a society and community — to save an individual and their family from loss and suffering.
While traditional insurance plans cover genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk for some individuals, many are left behind. Studies have shown that up to 80% of individuals who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are not aware of their mutation, and do not know that they are at significantly increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.[3, 4] Traditionally, insurance coverage for genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk has been limited to people with a strong family history of cancer. However, only about 50% of people who have mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a significant family history.[5,6] Additionally, minorities have historically been underrepresented in the use of genetic testing.[7, 8]
At Color, a foundational building block of our mission is to discover innovative ways to responsibly make genetic testing available to everyone. Today, we are announcing a new approach to increasing access to genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk — the Color Benefits Program. Through the Color Benefits Program, we are working with 18 leading organizations to make genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk available to their employees as a corporate benefit. Organizations participating in the Color Benefits Program want to support the health and wellness of their entire employee populations.
Multiple Leading Organizations Are Taking the Pledge
The organizations who have taken the Breast Cancer Pledge are focused on providing one of the best workplace environments so that their employees can thrive. These organizations seek out new and innovative ways to support the health and diversity of their employees. A number of the organizations have witnessed the impact of breast or ovarian cancer personally through employees’ and loved ones’ experiences. They have seen firsthand how knowing one’s genetic predispositions in some cases could have enabled disease prevention or early detection.
The 18 pioneering organizations include: Addepar, Andreessen Horowitz, AngelList, CloudPhysics, Gainsight, Glow, Innovation Endeavors, Instacart, Medium, Sacramento Kings, Slack, Social Capital, Stripe, SurveyMonkey, Visa and Y Combinator.
Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Instacart, explains: “We took the Breast Cancer Pledge because we care deeply about the health of our employees and want them to have access to this important test.”
“I had the opportunity to get tested earlier this year and want my team to have the same opportunity and access,” adds Jessica Livingston, Founder of Y Combinator.
Organizations will cover between 50–100% of the cost of the Color Test for their employees and in some cases, spouses or partners as well. Color provides a high-quality, physician-ordered genetic test for 19 genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2. Every Color Test includes genetic counseling at no additional cost. For participating organizations, Color offers additional onsite educational programs with our board-certified genetic counselors. To our knowledge, this is the first benefits program that pays for testing coverage for an entire employee population.
The cost savings to individuals is dramatic. Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk can cost as much as $4,000 without insurance coverage; at Color’s $249 price and a 50% subsidy from an employer, the test is now available to employees for just ~$125. This is a 97% discount relative to the cost of similar tests. The goal of this initiative is to give employees the opportunity to understand their genetic risk of breast and ovarian cancer in a responsible and well-supported way through a physician-ordered test and access to board-certified genetic counselors. By participating in this program, these organizations are giving their team the option to learn their genetic status if they choose to do so. This program is fundamentally about access and choice versus suggesting a specific path for any individual employee.
“This was a no-brainer for us. The health and well-being of our staff is of utmost importance, so we took the step to give our employees the opportunity and option to get tested,” said Scott Moak, executive director of The Sacramento Kings Foundation. “This program is in line with our organization’s values and we hope all other teams will consider joining us.”
“We want to help people at Medium feel supported and healthy so they can focus on being productive and present at work. Taking the Breast Cancer Pledge does exactly that and we’re excited to be part of this program,” adds Naureen Manekia Seyal, Head of People Operations at Medium.
If you are interested in offering the Color Benefits Program to your employees or learning more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.