What is a genetic counselor?
Genetic counselors are health care providers with specialized training in medical genetics and counseling. They work as members of a health care team, providing risk assessment, education and support to individuals and families at risk for, or diagnosed with, a variety of inherited conditions. Genetic counselors also interpret genetic testing and serve as patient advocates.
Who should meet with a genetic counselor?
Some common reasons for meeting with a genetic counselor include:
- Family history of cancer or heart conditions
- Known hereditary condition or genetic disease
- Relative with birth defects or mental retardation
- Questions about genetic testing
- Couples desiring carrier screening for genetic conditions common
- in their ethnic group
- Personal or family history of a neuromuscular condition
What happens at an appointment?
During a typical appointment, the genetic counselor will:
- Review personal and family medical history
- Identify possible genetic risks and discuss how they are inherited
- Review genetic testing options
- Discuss strategies for health screening and disease management
- Provide information, as well as educational and support resources
Do I need genetic testing to see a counselor?
No. Genetic counseling and genetic testing are two different things. Genetic counselors are able to discuss testing options and provide information to help you decide if genetic testing is right for you.
Is genetic counseling covered by health insurance?
Genetic counseling is typically covered by medical insurance. However, it is important to check with your insurance company to find out about your specific coverage.
Do I need a referral for genetic counseling?
While we do not require a referral, most insurance companies do require a referral from a doctor or health care professional before covering the visit. We recommend you verify this with your insurance company.
Is genetic testing covered by health insurance?
Every health insurance plan is different. If you choose to have genetic testing, the genetic counselor can help determine if the specific test is covered by your insurance plan and submit any necessary prior authorization after the visit.
Melissa R. F. Truelson, MD, CGC
Karen Buser, MS, CGC