Reward For Donating A Kidney? Lose Health Insurance

Giving the gift of life to your daughter by donating a kidney to her is an amazing sacrifice, one that requires careful thought and many long hours in medical facilities.

You might expect that a person generous enough to give such an extraordinary gift would be warmly applauded and congratulated.

That’s not what happened four years ago to Radburn Royer, a retired high school teacher in Aitkin, Minnesota. His daughter Erika was on dialysis three times a week because of kidney failure from lupus. “I had to help her,” he told AARP Bulletin.

After this perfectly healthy father donated a kidney to his daughter Erika, he was turned down for health insurance. The reason? He had a preexisting condition.

How can this be? Don’t you have to be in excellent health in order to donate a kidney?

Indeed, just like all potential donors, Royer was carefully screened and is in good health. But Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota rejected his application for coverage last year, as well as his appeals; their grounds were that he has chronic kidney disease, in spite of the fact that many people live with one kidney and his nephrologist testified that his kidney is healthy.

Officials with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota refused to discuss Mr. Royer’s case because of privacy laws. Now Royer buys coverage from the state’s Comprehensive Health Association high-risk pool, which costs him $130 more a month and has a higher deductible.

From The New York Times:

Mr. Royer said he is baffled by the denial. “From my perspective, I’d be a good risk,” he said. “I’d just be putting in premiums and helping balance the system out.”

Erika Royer, now 31, has regained her kidney function and has been able to return to work. But because of his donation, her father, a physically active, healthy man, has been unable to obtain private health insurance.

From The New York Times:

The health of living donors is seldom at issue: Though some research suggests that kidney donors may be slightly more prone to develop high blood pressure as they age, long-term studies have found donors live as long as other healthy people. One study reported that donors live even longer.

There are so many ways in which this decision is wrong – As of 2008, 382,343 Americans were receiving kidney dialysis, at a cost of $39.46 billion in public and private spending, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Dialysis is so expensive, in fact, that transplant surgery pays for itself in two years, according to one estimate.

Many advocates believe that living organ donors should be guaranteed lifelong health coverage. The Affordable Care Act will end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, but not until 2014.

But for now, you should not assume that just because you are healthy enough to donate you will be automatically approved for health insurance. Which is a shame.

But we can be thankful that Mitt Romney was not given the opportunity to erase Obamacare.


Related Care2 Coverage

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Photo Credit: NDNG


Annmari Lundin
Annmari L5 years ago

Universal healthcare is the only way to go.

AmberAmber Martingale
Angela Roquemore5 years ago

I apologize for my god-awful spelling in my previous comment. I was a butterfingers.

AmberAmber Martingale
Angela Roquemore5 years ago

As a diabetic, I'd be discrimiated against until 2014 if the Affordable Health Care Act HADN'T been passed. But ow I just gotta find a way to save enough monry from my SSI to be able to go insurance shopping in 2014.

Charles B.
Charles B5 years ago

For Luvinia V: You seem to have missed the whole point of why people buy insurance (of any sort). If you want to protect yourself against an unlikely occurence that is much more costly than you can afford out of pocket, you buy insurance. The cost of this this insurance should be the cost of the evert times the probability of the event plus company fees and profit. If you are at high risk, the probability is higher, so the cost is higher. Simple.
If you are being ripped off, you haven't shopped carefully for a vendor, or there is a monopoly, or the government is involved.

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

The decision-makers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota should be ashamed of themselves! Thank goodness for Obamacare!!! Mr. Royer has to stay healhy until 2014.

Ellen R.
Ellen R5 years ago

Makes me glad to be Australian.

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

Charles B., by YOUR reasoning anyone not using their insurance for anything but check up for years should get a HUGE rebate from the insurance company. Funny how the insurance companies LOVE you AS LONG as you do NOT use their services. The reason that they cover SO MANY people is so they can average out the cost. This is wrong on so many levels and it is time for people like you to wake up and see they are robbing you blind.

Screw this new healthcare system AND the insurance companies, SINGLE PAY is the ONLY way.

Judy Feldworth
Judith Feldworth5 years ago

You do not get Medicare until you are 65 unless you have a well-documented permanent disability. He needs to wait until 2014 when the preexisting condition law protects him.

Mary K.
M. C5 years ago

What about Medicare ?

Biby C.
Biby C5 years ago

I've always thought insurance companies are the biggest blood suckers. They will not insure you if you are 'high risk'. They'll only take you if you're 'low risk' or better still 'no risk'!