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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Medical Specialties & Departments > Kidney Transplant

Kidney Transplant Cost


How Much Does a Kidney Transplant Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: Copays + 10%-50% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $260,000+

A kidney transplant is used to treat kidney failure, most commonly caused by diabetes. A kidney can come from a living or deceased donor.

Typical costs:

  • For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs for a kidney transplant typically consist of doctor visit, lab and prescription drug copays as well as coinsurance of 10%-50% for surgery and other procedures, which can easily reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum. Health insurance will typically cover a kidney transplant.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, a kidney transplant typically costs up to $260,000 or more total for the pre-transplant screening, donor matching, surgery, post-surgical care and the first six months of drugs. Afterward, it costs about $17,000 a year for anti-rejection drugs.
  • According to Vimo.com, a health care cost comparison website, the average list price for a kidney transplant is $143,500, while the average negotiated price, through a health insurance company, is just under $33,500. According to TransplantLiving.org, total costs for a kidney transplant[1] from the month before the transplant through the first six months afterward typically reach almost $260,000, including more than $17,000 for the medications. These costs include pre-surgery medical tests, surgery, hospitalizations for complications, follow-up care and anti-rejection and other drugs.
  • The most common combination of anti-rejection drugs[2] which are used for life, is tacrolimus (brand name Prograf), mycophenolate mofetil (brand name CellCept), and Prednisone. At DrugsDepot.com, a one-month supply of the brand-name Prograf can cost about $400-$2,000 or more, depending on the dose. And, at DrugsDepot.com, a one-month supply of generic tacrolimus costs about $150-$900 or more, depending on the dose. At DrugsDepot.com, a one-month supply of the brand name CellCept costs more than $1,000. At DrugsDepot.com, a one-month supply of generic mycophenolate mofetil costs less than $30. And Prednisone typically costs less than $10 a month.
Related articles: Kidney Cancer Treatment, Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • If a transplant might be needed, a screening is conducted at a transplant center to determine whether the patient is a candidate for transplant. Then, if a living donor is being used, tests will be conducted to ensure compatibility. If not, the patient will have to sign up on an organ donor waiting list. Organdonor.gov offers a step-by-step guide to the transplant process[3] .
  • For the operation, the patient is placed under general anesthesia, and the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen. The doctor then takes the donor kidney and stitches its ureter, a tube that takes urine out of the kidneys, to the patient's bladder. Unless they are causing health problems, the non-functioning kidneys are left in the body.
  • Emory Transplant Center offers a guide to the transplant procedure[4] , recovery[5] , going home[6] and medications[7] .
Additional costs:
  • Anti-rejection drugs[8] , which typically must be taken for life, cost as much as $17,000 per year, according to the American Kidney Fund. If the transplant fails, treatment costs can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, the first year of treatment after a transplant failure[9] , known as a "graft failure," can cost about $140,000, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. About 55% of kidney transplants fail[10] within 10 years.
Discounts:
  • Patients of any age with kidney failure that requires dialysis are eligible for Medicare, which might pay up to 80% of the costs of a transplant; however, Medicare covers only 36 months of anti-rejection drugs. The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse offers information on Medicare and other financial resources[11] .
  • Many hospitals give discounts of up to 30% or more to uninsured or cash-paying patients. For example, Washington Hospital Healthcare System[12] in California offers a 35% discount.
  • HelpHOPELive helps patients conduct community fundraising campaigns[13] to help pay for transplants, but the organization takes a fee of 4%-7%.
Shopping for a kidney transplant:
  • The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients offers a transplant center locator[14] by address. And the National Kidney Center offers a guide to choosing a transplant center[15] .
  • The National Kidney Center offers a comparison chart[16] showing the different types of dialysis and different types of kidney transplants, listing the pros and cons of each.
  • The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse offers a guide to the kidney transplant process[17] .
  • The Stanford University School of Medicine is conducting clinical trials[18] for a new transplant protocol that might allow kidney recipients to live without anti-rejection drugs.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  www.transplantliving.org/before-the-transplant/financing-a-transplant/the-costs/
  2.  www.kidney.org/atoz/content/immuno_meds.cfm
  3.  www.organdonor.gov/about/transplantationprocess.html
  4.  www.emoryhealthcare.org/transplant-kidney/learn-about/procedures.html
  5.  www.emoryhealthcare.org/transplant-kidney/learn-about/post-transplant.html
  6.  www.emoryhealthcare.org/transplant-kidney/learn-about/going-home.html
  7.  www.emoryhealthcare.org/transplant-kidney/learn-about/medications.html
  8.  www.kidneyfund.org/advocacy/policy-and-issues/policy-issues.html
  9.  www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Research/HealthCareFinancingRevie...
  10.  kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/kustats/
  11.  www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/financialhelp/index.aspx
  12.  www.whhs.com/about/washington-hospital-discount-policy-for-uninsured/
  13.  www.helphopelive.org/about/faqs.cfm#37DB3F76-123F-73FE-8942ECFEA9D84F23
  14.  www.srtr.org/csr/current/Centers/Default.aspx
  15.  www.nationalkidneycenter.org/treatment-options/transplant/find-a-transplant-center/
  16.  www.nationalkidneycenter.org/treatment-options/dialysis-transplant-comparison/
  17.  www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/transplant/
  18.  med.stanford.edu/ism/2011/october/strober.html
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