Healthcare Tips

Teens May Lose Transplanted Organs When Insurance Runs Out

November 05, 2017

A new study shows that young transplant patients in the U.S. who lose their insurance coverage are more likely to stop taking necessary anti-rejection drugs, which can increase the risk of losing the transplanted organs. The study appears in the latest issue of Pediatric Transplantation.

"Immunosuppressive drugs that prevent organ rejection are incredibly expensive; the cost can exceed $13,000 a year," says study author Dr. Mark Schnitzler. "This represents a significant financial burden for families no matter if they have adequate health insurance coverage because of co-payment obligations."

If families can not afford medicine, it can mean losing the transplanted organ or even death. "Outcomes for children whose families are uninsured are very poor," says Dr. Schnitzler. Young adults from the ages of 18 to 23 face the greatest risk, as 30 percent of this age group lacks medical coverage. Even when families do have coverage after a transplant, it can run out 36 to 44 months post-transplant or when the child reaches adulthood.

"New policies and solutions including public lifetime coverage for pediatric kidney transplant recipients, that are expected to be cost-saving to our society in the long run, must be put forth and evaluated," says Schnitzler. "Effective coverage to meet the healthcare requirements of pediatric transplant recipients as they transition to adulthood needs to be made accessible so that our society does not continue to prematurely lose this promising pool of young adults."

For families trying to make some difficult decisions, Dr. Schnitzler advises them to retain their insurance, as the cost of insurance is more affordable in the long term than the expense of transplant failure and hospital stays. "Pediatric transplant recipients have every desire to become independent and useful members of society. To achieve that goal, they need to keep their transplants healthy, and immunosuppressive drugs will help them to do so."

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This study is published in the March issue of Pediatric Transplantation.

Dr. Mark Schnitzler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine in the School of Medicine and Community Health in the School of Public Health at Saint Louis University. He is the founder and Director of Transplant Outcomes and Policy Research (TOPR).

Pediatric Transplantation is the only journal devoted to transplantation in infants, children and adolescents. The journal aims to advance science and practice of transplantation in children worldwide, by providing a forum that highlights the most recent advances in clinical and basic science related to this field. For more information, please visit blackwellpublishing/ptr.

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 medical, academic, and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and has over 6,000 books in print. The company employs over 1,000 staff members in offices in the US, UK, Australia, China, Singapore, Denmark, Germany, and Japan and officially merged with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.'s Scientific, Technical, and Medical business in February 2007. Blackwell's mission as an expert publisher is to create long-term partnerships with our clients that enhance learning, disseminate research, and improve the quality of professional practice. For more information on Blackwell Publishing, please visit blackwellpublishing/ or blackwell-synergy/.

Contact: Sean Wagner
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.