This recent AARP article caught my attention last week. My father lost his kidneys in 2001 as a result of Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a rare autoimmune disease. In August, he was the recipient of a kidney generously donated by the family of a young man who had passed away. And this fall, for the first time in 11 years, he’s been able to go about his life without being tethered to a dialysis machine every evening. So I’m drawn to stories about kidney transplants, living donors, or families who choose to donate a deceased loved ones organs.
To sum it up, Radburn Royer is a healthy 57 year old who donated a kidney to his daughter four year ago, after her own had failed as a result of lupus. Prior to donating a kidney, Royer was covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minn. It’s unclear what his health insurance status was in the interim, but last year he reapplied for coverage with them and was turned down. He’s appealed several times, but for now he’s covered by his state’s high risk pool (he has to pay $130 more per month for his coverage and has a higher deductible, both of which are common in high risk pools).
Individual health insurance in Colorado is underwritten just as it is in Minn., but underwriting guidelines usually vary from one state to another and from one carrier to another. So we contacted three of the top individual health insurance carriers in Colorado to see how they would underwrite an applicant who had previously donated a kidney. Cigna, Humana and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield all said that as long as the donor had been released from medical care and had normal blood pressure and blood lab results, the most likely underwriting outcome would be acceptance with a standard rate.
At first glance, this seems to be at odds with the situation experienced by Royer, but maybe it’s not. The AARP article notes that Royer underwent […]
[…] In the context of kidney donation, it’s important that potential donors not be inadvertently scared off by AARP’s article. Kidney donors are heroes – anyone who had received a transplant will attest to that fact – and they save lives. The study that I linked to above followed donors for 20 – 37 years after their transplants. While some donors did end up having kidney problems, the majority had normal kidney function 20 – 37 years out from surgery, and would likely not have a problem obtaining individual health insurance, even prior to it being guaranteed issue in 2014. Most people who are healthy enough to be accepted as a donor will continue to be healthy after they donate a kidney.