MassMutual and Genomics Extend Genetic Testing to More Policyholders

The expanded program offers eligible MassMutual policyowners aged 35-70 access to polygenic risk testing via a saliva test that identifies hidden risk for eight common conditions.

(Image source: Genomics homepage.)

MassMutual (Springfield, Mass.) and Genomics plc (Oxford, U.K.), have expanded a program that offers a genetic risk assessment service to MassMutual policyholders, providing insight into their personalized risk for eight major diseases. The expansion of the companies’ partnership follows a successful research collaboration in which more than 70 percent of policyholders who elected to use the risk assessment service reported intent to take preventative actions based on their risk scores, including plans to see their doctor or seek further screening, according to a joint statement from the companies.

Sears Merritt, Head, Enterprise Technology and Experience, MassMutual.

Genomics’ at-home test studies millions of small variations in DNA, generating polygenic risk scores, that can inform the likelihood of certain conditions. The predictive power of this new type of genetic risk testing has the ability to improve individuals’ health outcomes by increasing patient engagement and activation and helping doctors make more informed decisions and recommendations for their patients, according to the joint statement.

During the initial Genomics and MassMutual research collaboration, 1 in 5 policyowners learned that they are at a higher risk for preventable diseases. The expanded program offers eligible MassMutual policyowners aged 35-70 access to polygenic risk testing via a saliva test that identifies hidden risk for eight common conditions: atrial fibrillation, breast, or prostate cancer (depending on biological sex), cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low bone density and type 2 diabetes. In addition to learning about their risk for each of the conditions, policyholders also receive actionable, tailored health advice and a report they can review with their doctor to reduce the chances of developing the condition.

Anonymized Data to Protect Policyholder Privacy

The companies say that critical component of their collaboration is a shared commitment to data privacy. Policyowners participate on a voluntary basis. Their results are never shared with MassMutual and do not impact current premiums or policies. MassMutual only receives high-level, anonymized data from Genomics that allows the company to better understand aggregate policyholders’ health and behaviors and interest in these types of offerings, according to the joint statement.

Sir Peter Donnelly, Co-Founder and CEO, Genomics.

“While the study of genomics is not new, it now provides an enormous opportunity to help individuals live their longest, healthiest lives,” comments Sir Peter Donnelly, co-founder and CEO, Genomics. “By giving individuals and their doctors much more precise information about the particular health risks they face, they can take the right actions, at the right time, to help prevent disease entirely, or to catch it early when outcomes are much better. As a leader in insurance, MassMutual is one of the first to understand the untapped value genomics brings in making proactive and preventative health choices. We’re thrilled to work alongside a partner aligned with our mission of transforming health and making this technology more widely available.”

“We’re excited to have a partner like Genomics that is equally committed to the mission of empowering individuals to live their fullest lives by understanding and acting on risk factors,” comments Sears Merritt, head of enterprise technology and experience, MassMutual. “This offering allows us to further support policyowners on their path to a healthy life by learning about their risks and making informed health choices. Based on the success of our initial research collaboration, there is high interest from policyowners to act on the information they receive, and we’re honored to lead the insurance industry forward by equipping individuals to play a more proactive role in their health journey.”

The collaboration with Genomics is part of MassMutual’s broader Health and Wellness Program, which focuses on initiatives that provide policyholders with insights into their potential health risks, empowering them to seek out appropriate interventions and motivate healthy behaviors and lifestyles.

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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