People are willing to pay for test that predicts their cancer future

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Most US adults would pay for laboratory tests that would indicate their risks for breast and prostate cancers as well as arthritis and Alzheimer disease, even if the tests were not perfectly accurate and did not have any direct treatment consequences.

A population-based Internet survey asked adult participants whether they would take a hypothetical predictive blood test for one of the four diseases. The survey specified that the tests would not be covered by insurance.

Prostate cancer won the biggest share of “yes” votes, with 87% of the 1,463 respondents stated that they'd be willing to be tested for that disease. Breast cancer won the second biggest consensus with 81% stating that they would agree to submit to such a test, followed by arthritis (79%) and Alzheimer disease (72%). The would-be test-takers were willing to pay, on average, $300 for an arthritis test to $600 for a prostate test. Median willingness to pay varied from $109 for an imperfectly accurate arthritis test to $263 for a perfectly accurate prostate cancer test.

“Respondents' preferences for predictive testing, even in the absence of direct treatment consequences, reflected health- and non-health-related factors, and suggests that conventional cost-effectiveness analyses may underestimate the value of testing,” concluded investigators Peter J. Neumann, ScD, of Tufts Medical Center, and colleagues in their report for Health Economics, published online ahead of print.

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