DNA Home-Testing Just Got Cheaper

In a press release dated December 11, 2012, personal genetics company, 23andMe Inc., announced that they will now offer their Personal Genome Service for only $99. The DNA home-testing service previously ran around $300 depending on how many additional options you include. The company stated that the discount was made possible due to grants received and a reduction in the cost of processing the samples.

For $99, what can you expect? The $99 package includes online history and traits reports, access to a genealogical database, and personalized updates. Once they receive payment 23andMe will mail out a kit for saliva collection. When they receive the sample and it is analyzed, the results will be posted to their secure website for viewing. Results can be expected within 2-3 weeks.

Some may worry that the results, which may predict future health issues, could prevent them from getting health insurance. A law signed into effect by former President Bush in 2008 prevents insurance companies and employers from discriminating due to genetic testing results. The Genetic Information Nondescrimination Act of 2008 states:

“In other words, it protects our citizens from having genetic information misused, and this bill does so without undermining the basic premise of the insurance industry.”

The integration of DNA results and the internet have opened up new doors to genealogy buffs. Craig Kanalley, of The Huffington Post, recently reported that he was able to track down previously unknown family in Ireland. Using information analyzed by another DNA Home-testing company, Family Tree DNA, Kanalley describes meeting his distant relative for the first time:

“It was a surreal moment pulling up at their house. I wasn’t positive it was the right place, but then a man walked out from the front of it, and immediately I knew it was. I could just tell as soon as I saw him — without ever having seen him before, no pictures online or anything — that was a Kennelly.”

Although the results can lead to a happy ending, 23andMe warns that some results may be unexpected or disturbing. In a special section of their website they list the possible adverse implication and state:

“Looking at your genetic data might uncover information that some people find surprising. This information can be relatively benign and might give you a chuckle. At other times, the information you learn can have profound implications for both you and your family.”