drug testing

sensitive laboratory results

Now that marijuana is legal in many states, as well as in Washington D.C., some underwriting departments have asked us to update their sensitive test results to allow for positive THC. Several clients indicated that waiting for sensitive test results can cause a delay in their underwriting process. By reducing your number of sensitive tests, some of these delays are eliminated and underwriters can make faster decisions. This is a simple change that is requested through our team and may include other tests as well.

To walk you through this process, one of our Regional Account Managers, Rebecca Shady, answers some frequently asked questions.

Q. What results can be changed from sensitive to non-sensitive?
A. There are now 17 laboratory tests that can be categorized as non-sensitive. They include:   

Cocaine, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, norfentanyl, methamphetamine, marijuana, amphetamine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methadone, oxymorphone, oxycodone, phencyclidine, 6-monoacetylmorphine Each test is individually-based and a carrier can customize which ones should be identified as sensitive versus non-sensitive. Please note, a sensitive test must be reported as sensitive on both the raw data feed and on the text report.

Q. Am I able to customize my sensitive results by state?
A. At this time, we only have the ability to classify a result as sensitive or non-sensitive. We are unable to discern categorizations by state.

Q. What happens when a result is changed from sensitive to non-sensitive?
A. Once our team makes the change, all positives for that test will be received through your normal results feed. For example, if you want to start receiving THC as a non-sensitive, then a positive THC screen would appear with all other laboratory test results.

Q. I’ve determined that we currently have some results marked as sensitive, but I would like to accept them as non-sensitive. How do I make this request?
A. If you would like to update your requirements on what you identify as sensitive, please work with your Regional Account Manager (RAM). If you do not know who your RAM is or you do not have one, you may email our team at CSG.RAMS@QuestDiagnostics.com and one of our team members will contact you regarding your request.

Q. Can HIV be reported as non-sensitive?
A. At this time, any and all positive HIV results must still be reported as a sensitive test result.

Q. Will the process change for those tests that I want to keep as sensitive?
A. No. For any test that is currently identified as sensitive, you will continue to receive those results the same way as you do today.

We hope this helps answer any questions you may have regarding sensitive test results. If you have additional questions, please contact your Strategic Account Executive or Regional Account Manager.


*Professional Services fees may apply for complex or custom product and system integrations

Ask the Expert: Drug trends in America

by Lindsey Amaya on October 3, 2018

During one of our summer webinars, Betsy Sears, Executive Vice President, Laboratory Strategy and Sales, and Dr. Barry Sample, Quest Diagnostics Senior Director, Science and Technology, examined two of America’s populations for drug positivity rates by various drug classes. This included a workforce population and ExamOne life insurance applicants. Understanding the drug trends and positivity rates of these two unique groups helps insurers identify potential mortality risk associated with the rise of opioid use in our country and drug positivity.

Talking with our experts

We recently sat down with our two experts to answer some of the questions submitted by our webinar attendees.

Q. Do marijuana testing numbers include cannabidiols (CBD) as being “positive” in testing? Or, are those numbers confined to testing of higher levels present of THC?
A. While CBD does share some of the same structures as THC, it will not produce a “high.” In some states where medical marijuana is legal, CBD products are allowed to have residual levels of THC up to 5%. You may wonder if this small amount is enough to produce a positive drug test. The answer is most likely not. A product that contains significantly high concentrations of THC in addition to CBD, could produce a positive drug test. However, if no THC is present in conjunction with CBD, the drug test will be negative.


Q. Are certain shampoos and hair washes still effective in masking the positive hair drug tests?
A. Research has shown that various shampoos, conditions, sprays and gels have little to no effect on the results of the hair specimen. You can read full details here.

Q. One slide demonstrated triple-digit increases in urine methamphetamine positivity from 2013-2017 for four regions in the United States. Do you know the prevalence for the states not shown?
A. This interactive map designed by Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, displays the percent positivity across the country. You can easily zoom in to a specific state to review positivity by zip code, as well as view the state rate compared to the national rate. Feel free to take a closer look by also changing the selected drug and year to see a different view.

Discover your applicant drug positivity rate

We hope you find these answers relevant as you identify what parameters determine your drug testing requirements. If you are interested in discovering drug trends and positivity rates within your applicant population, we can help with that.

Deaths of Despair: As premature deaths rise, insurers may want to evaluate their pricing strategy

May 15, 2018 Carriers

“Deaths of Despair,” an article recently appearing in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), should have red flags flying throughout the underwriting community. As reported in the Journal, among individuals 20-55 years of age “substance abuse, suicides, and diabetes drove a rise in premature deaths in nearly half of the U.S.” The WSJ data, originally published […]

Read the full article →

Industry survey insights: The impact of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use on anti-selection

November 2, 2017 Carriers

A recently commissioned study by Hank George, Inc. surveyed 110 direct-writing U.S. and Canadian life insurance carriers on fully underwritten businesses. The survey covered a variety of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use topics*. ExamOne asked consultant and former risk management director at Allstate Financial, Eric Hjerpe, to outline and expand upon some of the findings […]

Read the full article →

Illicit drug use in the US is at the highest rate in a decade

June 26, 2017 Carriers

Quest Diagnostics released its annual Drug Testing IndexTM in May.(1,2)  It revealed that the American workforce had the highest positivity rate for illicit drugs in the past 12 years. Cocaine continued its upward trend for the fourth consecutive year. Marijuana positivity increased dramatically with notable increases in Colorado and Washington, both states that have legalized […]

Read the full article →

Prescription Drug Misuse In America

July 22, 2014 Carriers

The abuse of prescription painkillers and narcotics has grown into a bonafide public health crisis, affecting virtually every state, city and small town in the United States.[1] Nearly half of the roughly 40,000 drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved pain medications, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.[2] Approximately 2.1 million people are dependent upon or abusing […]

Read the full article →