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Does health insurance normally cover kidney donation to someone who's not a family member?

Question:
Does health insurance normally cover kidney donation to someone who's not a family member?

Virgil, Connecticut

Answer:
Dear Virgil,

The kidney recipient's health insurance normally covers the cost of the donor's surgery and recovery in the hospital, but you are on your own as far as lost wages are concerned. However, some employers cover this time off with sick leave and vacation pay. You may also qualify for unpaid leave and the job protections offered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For more information on the FMLA, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's FMLA Web site.

Medicare — the federal health insurance program for the disabled and elderly — may also cover some of the recipient's costs for certain dialysis and kidney transplant services. Read Medicare Coverage of Kidney Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Services, published by the Health Care Financing Administration, the federal agency that oversees Medicare. You will need Adobe Acrobat to view the document.

No matter the age of the individual, if he or she needs Medicare because of permanent kidney failure, also known as "end-stage renal disease" (ESRD), he or she can enroll in the federal program at a local Social Security office. For enrollment information, call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.

If you're looking for more details about kidney donation, visit Living Donors Online, an online community for living organ donors, potential donors, their families, and medical professionals.

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Disclaimer: We are journalists, not financial planners or insurance brokers. Nothing we say should be interpreted as a recommendation to buy or sell any insurance product, or to provide other financial or legal advice.

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