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Live Kidney Donors Struggle to Make Changes in their Life Insurance Covers

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

According to Dr. Dorry L. Segev, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, kidney donors have to undergo thorough screening to ensure that they are in perfect health. “The thought that somebody who has perfectly normal kidney function will have to fight with their insurance company is troubling,” he said

For the study, Dorry Segev and his team studied 1046 people who had donated a kidney in their center from 1970 to 2011. They asked the participants whether they changed their life insurances after donating a kidney and whether the process was hard.

“Insurance companies who are supposed to be making predictions about people’s insurability are totally misinterpreting this particular medical scenario,” said Segev.

Among 395 who attempted to make changes on their life insurance, 27 percent had difficulties. In those who said they experienced difficulties during the process, 15 of them were denied; the premiums of 12 participants were increased while 8 were told by their companies that they had pre-existing conditions.

The researchers said that kidney donors may have problems changing their life insurance. The study also points at the problems in the highly fragmented insurance sector. Under the Protection and Affordable Care Act an insurance company cannot charge live kidney donors higher premiums and cannot deny them coverage.

“Kidney donors are among the healthiest individuals in the population. It’s such a shame that some insurance companies are giving donors a hard time, often because of a misinterpretation that the normal biological changes that occur after donation are an indication of kidney disease,” said Dr. Segev.

He added that the report is a reminder that there is need to be strong advocates for the donors, the donors also need to be their own advocates and educate insurances companies when need be.

The report did make a comparison between the donors and a similar group of non-donors.

“There’s nothing here about how long after donation the effort to change or buy life insurance took place,” Weisbart said. He continued to say that if the donors tried to make the changes when they were old many factors could have played a role.

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