This is a bit disturbing and I agree with the nephrologist from Harvard that says transplants should be mandated just for the simple idea for quality of life. What is disturbing is the cost numbers cited below in reference to needing enough insured patients to offset the cost for low payments from Medicare? I truly hope this had not entered the healthcare picture here with not putting potential patients on the transplant list soon enough, as once they have had the transplant of course, they no longer have a patient to bill either insurers or Medicare for dialysis services. When you look at the numbers being 65 billion a year for dialysis services, that’s big. With the methodologies for healthcare business intelligence algorithms, again, I hope this is not the picture here, as today everything is analyzed for profit.
If a patient does not get a transplant, well the facility can pretty much count on the captured audience here by all means. Kidney networking is also working well to make more available. Perhaps some day we will see a kidney grown from stem cells, but that’s a ways down the road. BD
Thousands of kidney patients in the United States start dialysis without first being told of kidney transplants that would be cheaper and lead to longer lives, according to a four-month newspaper investigation published Sunday.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reviewed records from the U.S. Renal Data System and found that some patients spend five years receiving debilitating dialysis treatments before they're put on the nation's kidney transplant list, while others who could benefit from transplants never make the list.
The newspaper found that kidney transplants add an average of 10 years to a patient's life and that a transplanted kidney costs Medicare about $50,000 less than treating a patient using dialysis. Still, the newspaper found the biggest dialysis providers need large numbers of patients covered by insurance to offset lower payments the providers get for dialysis from Medicare.
"Transplantation ought to be mandated because the outcomes are better, the quality of life is better and it's less expensive," said Dr. Tom Parker III, a Dallas nephrologist who co-chaired a summit on dialysis failures at Harvard Medical School in the spring.
The newspaper found that the $65 billion-a-year dialysis industry needs insured patients to offset losses from treating Medicare patients and to make profits, according to corporate filings by dialysis providers.
Patients are not only not told about transplant as an option before dialysis (when transplant has higher chance for efficacy), but they are similarly unaware of the conflict of interest posed by the UNOS member's income sources, which includes tens of millions from dialysis center ownerships and relationships. Paitents waiting on the UNOS list typicall wait up to 8 years; more than 10 per day die fruitlessly waiting. Living/altruistic donors are available through quality organizaitons such as matchingdonors.com; less expensive surgery at state-of-the art medical facilities - including financial assistance - is availalbe through hospital networks such as Hospital Angeles Tijuana, part of a 22-hospital system of private hospitals and where kidney transplant by a team that has performed 10,000 transplants over 13 years together cost about $40,000.
This is a really good article containing critical health care informaiton for kidney patients. I hope it finds the wider audience it deserves.