Getting and Keeping Insurance After Living Donation

Health Insurance

Q: Do I need health insurance to be an organ donor?
A: No – not to pay for costs of the donation, because the costs are billed to the health insurance of the recipient (person who receives the organ). 

However, it is strongly recommend that you have health insurance to help pay for other medical services you may need before or after you donate, such as:

  • Routine, preventive care tests that are sometimes required before donating but may not be covered by the organ recipient’s insurance. These may include tests to screen cancer such as a mammogram, Pap smear, prostate health screening, or colonoscopy. Check with your donor team to see if you’ll need any of these tests. 
  • Treatment for any health problems doctors find during your donor testing or surgery, such as high blood pressure
  • Treatment for any medical emergency not related to the donation
  • Yearly checkups with your own doctor to take care of your health after you donate, even if you don’t have health problems

*Note:  Some transplant programs may require that you as a living donor have health insurance to ensure you have access to care after donation.  Also,iIf you decide not to donate or if you are not eligible to donate, neither you nor your insurance will be billed for donation related services or evaluation. 

Q: Will my health insurance coverage or cost change because of my donation?
A: Not due to donation, except in rare cases (or in instances when tobacco products are used.) Your donor social worker may be able to further advise you.  Currently,  with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in place, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge more because of your health history, including living donation.  Future policy changes may occur after 2017, so it is important to discuss with your social worker.  

In very rare cases, if you’ve been continuously enrolled since 2010 in a health insurance plan that is “grandfathered in” and exempt from ACA rules, there is a small chance your rates could go up. Ask your insurance company or the Human Resources Department at your job if you’re not sure.

Disability Insurance

Q: Will my disability insurance change after I donate?
A:  Base rates of disability insurances offered through employer benefits are not typically affected by pre-existing conditions, like living donation, although there is the potential for an impact if you try to buy additional coverage.  You would need to talk to your human resources department.

Individually purchased disability plans may exclude pre-existing conditions for a period of time or may turn you down outright.  You should talk with your insurance agent to learn more about that and read the documents closely.

Life Insurance

Q: Will my life insurance change after I donate?
A: It may. Most living kidney donors have no problems getting or keeping life insurance, but there are some cases where the cost of a kidney donor’s life insurance went up after donation, particularly when trying to buy a new plan. With limited data available, living liver donors may have more difficulty buying new life insurance policies after donation.

Life insurance is regulated by each state, so rules may be different depending on where you live. Here’s how to learn more before and after you donate:

Before you donate – review your insurance policy and talk with an insurance expert, such as a benefits coordinator at your workplace, an insurance agent, or the insurance company. Ask your transplant center whether they participate in the living donor insurance program offered via the American Foundation for Donation and Transplantation (AFDT) or through the National Kidney Registry (NKR), if you plan to donate your kidney via the NKR paired exchange program.

After you donate – if you have insurance problems because you donated, tell your donor team. They may be able to help you appeal the insurance company’s decision.