After years on dialysis, I was fortunate to receive a kidney transplant. While I am grateful to be off dialysis, its emotional and financial burdens will take years to recover from.
When I started dialysis I had no private insurance and was 100% reliant on Medicare. Medicare, however, only covers 80 percent of each treatment. I couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket, but what choice did I have? I couldn’t live without these treatments.
Medicare also does not cover all costs of kidney transplants and the medications needed afterward. Going through dialysis while wondering whether I could afford a transplant even if I were offered one not only took a heavy financial toll, but was also psychologically agonizing.
Thankfully my clinic pointed me toward a foundation offering financial resources to offset these costs. However, such funding is limited, so many dialysis patients are stuck paying out-of-pocket for their life-saving treatments.
It shouldn’t be this way.
We need Congress to protect patients’ access to health coverage by passing legislation to protect patients’ access to private plans during the Medicare Secondary Payer period, and to make Medigap plans more accessible so all patients can afford the treatments and medications they need.