WIRED reports that Blue Shield of California is the first insurer to cover genomic-sequencing tests for infants. The publication reports that "ultra-rapid sequencing is moving from an investigational tool to a standard of care." Blue Shield announced on March 9 it would cover the tests.
But now ultra-rapid sequencing is moving from an investigational tool to a standard of care. Blue Shield of California is the first insurer to cover rapid and ultra-rapid sequencing of babies and children who have life-threatening and unexplained medical conditions. Since the new policy began in July 2019, 28 babies or children in California have received the testing through Blue Shield, which is just beginning to promote the new coverage.
Blue Shield expects that 250 to 500 newborns will be eligible for the whole genome sequencing each year, which represents about 10 percent of their insured babies treated in neonatal intensive care units in California. Company executive vice president Terry Gilliland said he will encourage other Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans around the country to adopt a similar policy. “When you think about all the pain and suffering families go through with sick babies, this is going to be an enormous benefit,” he says.
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