Genetic testing can cost as little as $100. But can also go up to more than $2,000, depending on the nature and complexity of the test, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.
Meanwhile, insurance typically won't cover the cost if someone simply wants it done. Plans usually require a doctor's note, recommendation from a genetic counselor, or a detailed family history.
For Diamond, covering the costs herself paid off. She tested positive again, and continued with screening. An MRI revealed she had Stage 1 breast cancer: Thanks to the initial 23andMe test, she caught it early enough to treat with surgery.
Diamond contacted all the genetic counselors she could find in the Baltimore area to get tested again so she could confirm her positive result, but most couldn't see her for three or four months. She managed to snag an appointment within two weeks, because she called every day until she found an office that had a cancellation.
Her insurance wouldn't cover the test, because none of her immediate relatives had breast or ovarian cancer, as typically required. She only needed one particular location within the gene tested, so it was less expensive than sequencing the entire gene.
It still cost Diamond $450, plus a $100 co-pay for the visit.
"I was very fortunate. If it was just a little big bigger, I would've needed chemo," said Diamond, now 42. "23andMe saved me from chemo."
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to pay the out-of-pocket costs. Color Genomics spotted an opportunity. The company sends people kits to swab their saliva and sends the sample to Color’s certified and accredited lab where it's tested for genetic mutations.
Color's confirmation testing looks at 30 genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, that are linked to eight hereditary cancers. The company normally offers the service for $250.
It partnered with the BRCA Foundation in 2016 to offer the tests to parents, siblings and adult children of people with mutations for $50. Earlier in June, Color expanded the program to people who tested positive for a BRCA mutation in 23andMe's test.
Color co-founder and CEO Othman Laraki penned a blog post titled, "Supporting patients left in limbo by (direct-to-consumer) BRCA genetic testing" to announce the move. In an interview, he said it's not a shot at 23andMe, but a means to help people take the next steps in an easier and more affordable way.
"It's about reducing the cost and friction for the people that have the highest likelihood of mutation where if they find out about it, they have a dramatic increased likelihood of being able to detect early cancer," Laraki said.
23andMe declined to comment on Color's program. A spokesman said 23andMe has a handful of examples where people have come to the company for either its health or ancestry services, not expecting a result that can be life changing.