SSQ Insurance enhances group offering with pharmacogenetic testing

by Leo Almazora02 Oct 2019

SSQ Insurance has introduced a new option for its group insurance offering: coverage of pharmacogenetics tests, which can help attending physicians identify the most appropriate drug to treat each patient.

“Since the treatment of disease is evolving toward personalized solutions for individual patients, pharmacogenetics is quickly becoming a must,” said Éric Trudel, senior vice-president of Strategy and Product Management at SSQ Insurance.

Pharmacogenetic tests are designed to examine DNA markers that help determine a person’s physiological reaction to a prescription drug. With the results from such tests, physicians can determine whether a particular treatment could be effective, or whether it could cause an adverse reaction and must therefore be avoided.

“SSQ Insurance is the first insurer to expand its health insurance offering by adding a clause for pharmacogenetic tests that is separate from the traditional clause for laboratory analyses,” Trudel added.

Policyholders may request to add the new clause specifying pharmacogenetic tests to their health insurance coverage, in accordance with a reimbursement maximum of their choosing. To be eligible, patients must have a physician’s prescription to get a pharmacogenetic test, which must be performed in a duly authorized laboratory in Canada.

The results of genetic tests are used to identify the most suitable drugs to treat conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), various psychological illnesses, and chronic diseases including hypertension and recurring pain. Insurers are never given access to the results of genetic tests, as physicians exclude any genetic information from medical files the transfer to insurers.

SSQ Insurance’s addition of the new clause comes in parallel to a pilot project launched in 2018, part of which involves offering pharmacogenetics testing to insured persons diagnosed with depression who are on disability leave.

“The technological advances and the success of the pilot project have allowed SSQ Insurance to develop the new clause now available in group health insurance,” the firm said in a statement.