The prenatal DNA test for the early detection of a trisomy (e.g. Down syndrome/trisomy 21) has been available in Germany since 2012. The discussion about whether the costs will be covered by statutory health insurance has been going on for almost as long.
The examination of the facts took a while, now it is completed:
The Joint Federal Committee (G-BA) of doctors, clinics and health insurance funds has agreed that the costs will be covered in the case of "special risks and to clarify abnormalities" - but demands better information from doctors. Routine tests or coverage of costs only on the basis of the age of the pregnant woman are not planned.
The demand of patient representatives to allow the test only from the 12th week of pregnancy in order to make a possible abortion more difficult or impossible was rejected. The new regulation will come into force in autumn 2020 at the earliest.
As before, the prenatal DNA test remains controversial and the social debate is likely to continue. The critics warn of an increasing early selection of disabled people, since most pregnant women decide to terminate the pregnancy if they are diagnosed with Down syndrome. Proponents, on the other hand, emphasise that the use of the harmless test (a simple blood test of the expectant mother) leads to a decrease in invasive examinations such as amniocentesis and thus reduces the number of intervention-related miscarriages.
For most parents-to-be, who are increasingly having the "Harmony test" performed in our practice, nothing will change in the short term. Once again, however, the discussion shows how important it is to deal with the possibilities, limits and ethical issues of prenatal diagnostics.