OKLAHOMA CITY - The offer is for a "free" DNA test.
Someone is paying for it and that someone is you, me and Uncle Sam.
Last year, Medicare announced it would cover genetic testing for some cancers, in rare circumstances.
Social Security’s Jose Olivero told News 4, “Your physician, your PA or doctor that is treating you has to order it.”
That’s true, and since the treatment must be deemed medically necessary, most seniors won't qualify.
That’s important because suspicious groups trying to get your DNA are popping up across the country.
In Kentucky, someone was working out of a van and paying seniors $20 for their DNA sample and health insurance information.
There have been more reports of people going to senior living communities and senior centers offering to swab cheeks for DNA samples and Medicare numbers.
“And you're going to give them your name, your address, your date of birth, your social security number and your Medicare number, and your DNA,” Jose said.
OU Children's Clinical Genetic Counselor, Erin Youngs, helps people understand their hereditary cancer risk.
“So [their] personal histories of cancer, strong family history of cancer, early onset cancers,” she added.
She says you should never consent to lab tests without your own physician's orders and proper medical records.
At-home genetic testing kits are all the rage right now, and largely unregulated.
Keep in mind, when you spit into that tube, you are handing over a treasure trove of information about yourself, and there's a chance your DNA could be hacked, or shared with law enforcement, or used in research.
“As far as I'm aware no clinical labs are participating in that type of relationship with any law enforcement agencies. From the commercial, the direct to consumer side that has occurred a couple of times.
Your DNA is everything, so protect like you would your personal and financial information.
We got word several groups were advertising DNA testing for cancer at a senior health fair in NW OKC, so we dropped by.
One of the groups is based out of Texas and claims to only hire licensed physicians and nurse practitioners to consult with patients and take their DNA sample.
The medic doing the consulting at the fair told us patients “have to meet insurance requirements, as well as medical necessities, [and] there are a variety of medical conditions that one has to have or familial, meaning family history medical conditions that one has to have.”
The company's legal counsel telling the In Your Corner team their genetic screening offerings are meticulously designed to be compliant, secure, and easily available, and they will never sell a patient's information or test their DNA sample, without first getting permission from a doctor, and their insurance.
Olivero warned, “These are people who are elderly on very limited income; like I said if Medicare doesn't pay they will get a bill for $3 to $5,000 and you have no recourse.”
On the flip side, there's always a chance Medicare could approve an unnecessary DNA swab test, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.
From what we can tell, both of the groups advertising DNA testing at the senior health fair are going about things legally, but again, this is your DNA and health insurance information we're talking about, so do not rush into anything.
If someone promises their genetic testing is covered 100 percent by Medicare, run the other direction because it's probably shady.