Earlier this year, ESRD patients in Pennsylvania began to receive notices that Independence Blue Cross (IBC) would no longer accept their premium payments if they received charitable assistance from the American Kidney Fund (AKF). In May, Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of dialysis patients to challenge IBC’s rejection of charitable premium support. DPC asked the court to issue an emergency injunction that would force IBC to accept premium payments made with assistance from AKF.
IBC responded by telling the court that as the lawsuit proceeds, it would accept charitable assistance if AKF sends the funds directly to dialysis patients rather than to IBC itself. We also understand that IBC has been accepting direct payments from AKF for Medigap premiums. IBC also may be allowing direct payments from AKF for plans bought through the federal exchange on Healthcare.gov.
This is good news for dialysis patients who rely on charitable support to afford the insurance that enables them to receive dialysis and other critical care. The Pennsylvania court encouraged DPC to inform its members of IBC’s promise, and to alert the court if IBC once again stops accepting premiums from patients supported by AKF.
We need your help. If you live in Pennsylvania and have either Medigap or an exchange plan through IBC, let us know if IBC rejects payment from AKF on your behalf. Also let us know if you are receiving checks directly from AKF and are having difficulty forwarding payment to IBC, perhaps because you don’t have a bank account or you lack transportation to a financial institution where you could purchase a money order made out to IBC. We will let the court know of your complaints and ask it to require IBC to accept direct payment from AKF. No one should be allowed to fall through the cracks because they can’t get their payments to IBC on their own.
We hope the Pennsylvania court will ultimately rule in favor of ESRD patients, and we will continue working to ensure that dialysis patients in all states can rely on charitable assistance to afford health insurance.