Considering Being an Organ Donor? This is How Much It’ll Cost You
In New Jersey and across the nation, organ donors are life-savers.
New Jersey 101.5 traffic reporter Bob Williams, who received a new kidney last year, is living proof of that.
But if you’ve ever contemplated becoming a donor, or if you need to have a transplant, you might be worried about who pays how much for what.
Kim Roumes, the New Jersey woman who heard about Bob Williams’ health crisis and decided to donate one of her kidneys to him, said she was told up front that his insurance would cover the cost of the operation.
“The only thing that I was made aware of that I would have to pay for was any pain medication," she said.
Andrea Tietjen, the director of transplant finance, equality and data at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, said the donor’s costs normally are borne by the recipient and his or her medical insurance.
“Almost every insurance company does provide coverage for transplantation. The level of that coverage varies from plan to plan," she said.
She pointed out, however, that even if someone has health insurance coverage through their employer, Medicare provides insurance coverage for a kidney transplant operation, whether you’re age 65 or not.
“Medicare may provide additional benefits to you and your donor that your current insurance does not offer," she said. “Some individuals apply for Medicare as a secondary insurance to help offset the cost that their primary insurance may leave them with.”
Roumes said she was told the recommended amount of time off from work after donating a kidney was four weeks, and that’s the amount of time she took after applying for temporary disability.
“Obviously, you don’t get your full pay that way, but I felt that what I was doing outweighed what I was going to lose in wages. I felt that was a necessary thing to do," she said.
She said after going through the experience of donating an organ, she feels appreciation for having the opportunity to help someone in such a meaningful way.
“There is nothing I would change about donating. It’s the best thing I ever did in my life. If I could do it again, I actually would," she said.
“We were given two kidneys and honestly we just need one, so I always say why not share your spare?”
Roumes said she joined an organ donor support group on Facebook.
“You stay in touch with these people from across the country and you feel comfortable asking any question,” she said. “I found that to be extremely helpful.”