UnitedHealthcare will reimburse kidney donors’ travel expenses

UnitedHealthcare will reimburse kidney donors’ travel expenses

UnitedHealthcare will pay travel expenses for kidney transplant donors


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UnitedHealthcare will pay travel expenses for kidney transplant donors. The announcement was made yesterday at the 2016 American Transplant Congress in Boston by Jon Friedman, MD, chief medical officer for Optum’s Complex Medical Conditions programs. Optum is the health services company that manages transplant services for UnitedHealthcare. Both companies are collaborating with the American Society of Transplantation (AST) and American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), which hosted the congress, to improve outcomes, reduce costs and enhance the experience of donors and recipients.

UnitedHealthcare insurance plans will reimburse lodging and travel expenses for the kidney donor and a companion, starting with the donor’s initial evaluation to determine suitability, through follow-up evaluations up to two years after donor surgery. The travel reimbursement, up to $5,000, will be available for all donors whose intended transplant recipients are enrolled in UnitedHealthcare fully insured plans as of the new policy year, Jan. 1, 2017.

“Many healthy people are eligible to donate a kidney, yet only one-third of kidney transplants come from living donors,” said Friedman, who has clinical oversight and responsibility for transplantation and end-stage renal disease for Optum. “This initiative will make it easier for living kidney donors to provide a life-saving gift to patients and their families.”

According to the AST, 96% of kidney donors experience donation-related financial consequences.

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It has been Nichole Jefferson‘s personal mission to tell her story and promote awareness. She was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in October 2003. At that time, not only was she unaware of what that meant; she also did not know she was a high-risk factor for developing the disease.
After the initial shock of the diagnosis, she decided peritoneal dialysis (PD) was the best option and utilized PD for a few years until she needed to switch to hemodialysis.
She received a kidney transplant from a deceased donor on June 12, 2008, but at the time, she didn’t realize it was simply another form of treatment and not a cure. Today, Nichole is waiting for a new transplant.
Nichole has worked with many advocacy groups on Capitol Hill and has provided her personal experience with ESRD to leaders in the field of nephrology. She tries to express the feelings of those who are unable or unwilling to speak for themselves.