John Hancock wants to find out what happens when life insurance insureds get a blood test that might reveal early signs of about 50 different types of cancer.
The Boston-based Manulife subsidiary is working with Munich Re and other reinsurers to offer a pilot program that will pay either 50% or 100% of the cost of Grail’s Galleri cancer screening test for insureds in the John Hancock Vitality wellness program.
John Hancock will not get individual test results for the insureds who use the pilot program, nor will the program results affect the participants’ coverage, premiums or Vitality points.
Brooks Tingle, CEO of John Hancock Insurance, emphasized in an email interview that John Hancock sees the pilot project as a way to help the insureds.
“John Hancock is committed to helping its customers live longer, healthier, better lives by offering them the latest tools and technology that can help them make informed choices about their health,” Tingle said. “John Hancock wants to make customers aware of the technology so that they can decide if taking the test is right for them.”
What It Means
Grail is charging just $949 for the Galleri test, an affordable price for most of the relatively affluent people who participate in the John Hancock Vitality program, as well as those who buy cash-value life insurance or annuities from John Hancock or other carriers.
John Hancock’s pilot test might give life insurers an early idea of what consumer access to the Grail test might mean for life insurance claims and annuity income obligations.
Grail, a subsidiary of Illumina, developed the test using technology for detecting “cell-free nucleic acids,” or bits of cancer cell genetic material that float in the blood.
The test appears to detect early signs of many cancers, such as ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer, for which no other screening tests exist.
Many health plans already pay for DNA-based tests that screen for colon cancer, and only for colon cancer. The price of one popular DNA-based colon screening test, the Cologuard test, is around $500.