General Question

chupacabra's avatar

When a person donates bone marrow or a kidney who pays the medical costs for the donor?

Asked by chupacabra (796points) October 23rd, 2009

What does the donor pay for when they volunteer to give a kidney or bone marrow? Is the cost of harvesting the organs or marrow charged to the donors insurance?

Aside of that are there any other out-of-pocket costs that the donor will need to cover?

Many thanks for any responses!

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11 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Interesting question. My assumption is the donor pays nothing, but it will be interesting to see the answers.

SpatzieLover's avatar

The answer is found on this donation site. Donors may have to pay for travel costs, but the rest should be covered by insurance.

RedPowerLady's avatar

The insurance of the person receiving the donation. You pay nothing. But they will not cover your after-care so you should be working with your doctor the entire time so that when the surgery is over you will have good after-care.

Edit to add: You do pay travel and possibly lodging costs. Another out-of-pocket cost is the loss of income while donor is recovering.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

The way I’ve heard it & read in the paper, the donor doesn’t pay for anything medically.

fundevogel's avatar

I would be even less likely to donate an organ if I had to pay to have it cut out. Charity and goodwill only go so far.

BBQsomeCows's avatar

the donor bank

Darwin's avatar

Insurance covers the actual donation, but there are other costs the donor needs to cover. As this site puts it:

“What do I pay for?
All of your medical costs as a donor are covered, but there are some related costs that are not. You may need to pay for:

* your regular health insurance premiums
* routine health exams (such as colonoscopies, Pap tests, mammograms)
* medical care, if health problems show up on pre-donor tests
* donor-related expenses (airfare, taxi, lodging, meals)
* routine cost-of-living expenses, until you can return to work

Do I need health insurance to be a donor?
We recommend you have health insurance for your own protection before and after donation. Your insurance will not be billed for the donation.

* If any pre-donor tests show that you have a problem, such as high blood pressure, you or your insurance company will be billed for treatment.
* If you do not have health insurance and tests show a medical problem, you could have trouble getting health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
* If you have a medical emergency (not related to donation), treatment will be billed to you or your insurance.
* Health insurance will cover routine checkups with your own doctor.

We urge you to see your own doctor each year for a checkup, even if you haven’t had any health problems. After you donate, it is very important to take care of your health.

Will I have any expenses as a donor?
Yes. These include travel, lodging and other non-medical costs.

We try to get low rates on flights for our patients. Please read the travel resource list in your donor packet, which is available from your Kidney Donor Transplant Coordinator.

You may want to stay close to the hospital the day before your surgery. For low-cost lodging near the hospital, call our Accommodations Department (800–328-5576).

Can I get a tax deduction for out-of-pocket donor related expenses?
Some states, including Minnesota, allow you to deduct up to $10,000 to cover certain donor expenses (such as travel, lodging and lost wages). You may want to discuss this law, called “Cody’s Law Across the Nation,” with your accountant. Or call The Transplant Center for more information.

Can I receive support for travel expenses related to donation?
Some national groups offer help with transportation. You will find these in the travel resource list in your donor packet. You might also qualify for a grant from our hospital’s special donor fund. Call The Transplant Center or donor social worker for more information.

How do I pay my living expenses after I donate?
While you are recovering from donor surgery, you will still have living expenses. Depending on the organ donated, it may be weeks or months before you can work again. To cover your cost of living, you may have to look for other sources of income:

* If you work outside of the home, ask your employer if you qualify for any leave benefits while you’re away from work. Most donors use vacation, sick leave, or short-term disability income to provide a source of income.
* Family members may help with your costs. By helping with donor expenses or household bills, they have a way to take part in the transplant experience.
* If your recipient has a fund-raising drive, some of the money may go to non-medical expenses related to donation.
* The Transplant Center has a Living Donor Assistance Grant. This is for eligible donors who need financial help during this vital time. Ask your social worker how you can apply for these funds.

What do The Transplant Center and the recipient’s insurance pay for?
The following costs are covered by either the organ recipient or The Transplant Center:

* hospital costs for tests before donation
* physical exam and tests by your own doctor, if required before you donate
* hospital costs related to donation
* medicines related to your donation
* post-donation checkups related to donation
* post-donation treatment for medical problems related to donation

If you have problems that you think are related to your donation, you must contact The Transplant Center as soon as possible at 612— 625–5115. The person in charge will decide if medical treatment is needed and tell you what to do.

What if I receive a bill from the hospital?
You will be billed for any service not required by your care plan. If you think you have received a bill in error, call The Transplant Center (612–625-5115). We will correct any errors or explain why you are being billed.

Are my test results and any medical problems kept private during my pre-donor testing?
Yes. Your private file is kept separate from the recipient’s medical record before and after you donate.

What if I decide not to donate?
You will not be billed for any of the donor testing.

What if I have my tests and follow-up visits somewhere else?
We urge you to have all of your tests at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, since we will be familiar with your care. But we know this is not always practical if you live far away.

You may be able to have some donor tests and follow-up visits at another location. But some tests must be done here at The Transplant Center. Talk to your transplant coordinator.

f I have tests closer to home, how are the bills paid?
The Transplant Center still pays for all required tests. Your transplant coordinator will give you a list of required tests.

* Bills for pre-donor tests should be sent to The Transplant Center. We will only pay for the tests on your list.
* To send bills to The Transplant Center, follow the instructions on your Living Organ Donor Identification Card.
* Share the information on the card with your doctor, clinic or pharmacy. Be sure to get the original card back.
* You may direct anyone with questions to The Transplant Center at 612–625-5115

What if my doctor or clinic wants me to pay the bill?
Show them the instructions on your Living Organ Donor Identification Card. It’s best to ask your doctor or clinic how they bill patients before you start any testing.

If you have to pay for the tests, get a complete, itemized bill and receipt for payment. Send these to The Transplant Center and we will repay you.

If your clinic bills your insurance for your donor tests, it must refund your insurance company when the clinic receives payment from us.

How much time will I need to take off work?
Please prepare for your time off before donation. Think about how surgery and recovery might affect your employment or benefits. At The Transplant Center, we will help you with the paperwork needed to receive any benefits your employer offers.

Before surgery: Allow one to three days for pre-donor tests at The Transplant Center.

After surgery:

* Kidney donors are usually able to return to work within four to six weeks.
* Liver donors may be out of work for up to three months.
* Lung donors may be out of work for up to two months.

Talk to your doctor and transplant coordinator to plan your time off. Time away from work depends on:

* your health
* which organ you donate
* the type of surgery
* whether you have problems after donation

The type of work you do will also affect your recovery time. If your job requires heavy lifting (more than 10 pounds) or is physically difficult, you should plan on at least six weeks for recovery. If you work at a desk or computer, you may be able to return sooner.

Some donors return to work part-time or request lighter duties at first.

Does my employer offer benefits for organ donors?
Talk to your employer, employee benefits personnel or Human Resources (HR) department about your benefits for time off. Ask if they give paid leave or other special benefits to donors.

Many people must use sick or vacation time when off work.

* Some employers let employees donate sick leave to co-workers who donate organs.
* You may qualify for short-term disability through your work benefits.
* Federal employees who donate an organ are given 30 days of paid leave without using sick or vacation time. Some states and businesses offer the same paid leave for state employees.
* Donor problems after surgery are rare. You may want to check for long-term disability coverage in case you need more time away from work.

What is the Family Medical Leave Act?
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) helps people who work for companies with 50 or more employees. You may miss work for up to 90 days for reasons of personal or family health. FMLA protects your employment but does not pay for your time away. Your HR department can explain the FMLA benefit and help you with the paperwork.

Will my health insurance benefits change after I donate?
Donors rarely report problems getting or keeping health insurance after donating an organ. Please discuss your concerns with your insurance company or HR department. If you have any problems, your donor team may help advocate for you.

Will my life insurance benefits change after I donate?
Most living donors have no problems getting life insurance. But we know of rare cases where donors have said their rates went up because of donation.

There is no increased risk of kidney, liver or lung failure after donation. If you have insurance problems, we will help you appeal your case with the insurance company.

You may wish to review your policy and discuss any questions you have with your insurance agent.”

Dr_Dredd's avatar

I donated bone marrow a few years ago. I paid absolutely nothing. The recipient’s insurance covered all of it.

Joulesia's avatar

What if you don’t have insurance? My friend’s wife was supposed to start her BMT today (she has cancer) but the donor backed out. I’d like to be tested, but I don’t have insurance. I’m just wondering if their insurance would pay (in the chance that I was a match) or if it would be out of pocket since I don’t have insurance. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Joulesia Call the National Marrow Donor Program to find out if there are any marrow drives in your area. Often families of cancer patients will support donor drives among their own ethnic population. That’s how I first got on the registry—a drive for people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

Good luck to your friend and his wife. It’s too bad that the donor backed out this far into the process. It’s terrible to give false hope.

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