Employers can Cut Healthcare Costs through Kidney Transplantation

Most self-insured employers don’t realize how common kidney disease is among their employees nor how much they’re paying – unnecessarily – to treat it.

Today in America, one in seven adults is living with chronic kidney disease. As the disease progresses, these husbands, wives, friends and colleagues – 96% of whom don’t yet know they have it – will find themselves with only two options to survive: dialysis or a kidney transplant.

As a physician in the kidney space, I have seen the realities of both.

Dialysis takes a toll, both on patients and their employers. Costs to self-insured employers can reach up to $500k per employee with kidney failure, while the treatment, itself, can often leave employees unable to work at their full capacity.

Transplantation isn’t just better care. It’s also the least expensive care. For every dollar spent on transplantation, you save an average of two dollars that you would have spent on dialysis. A transplanted patient also lives an average of ten years longer than a patient on dialysis.

The sad reality is that while transplantation is the better option, it remains out of reach for many. The prevalence of kidney failure in the United States means the waiting list for a lifesaving kidney grows longer each year, and up to 60% of those waiting will die before this gift becomes available. Experience tells me that many employers don’t know the extent of their costs and that there are simple steps that they can take to overcome barriers to transplantation, reduce expenses and save lives.

Employers can start by understanding that kidney transplantation is a way to cut healthcare costs, not increase them. Help is available to employers who want to identify kidney failure patients early and get them transplanted faster. By taking action, employers can be part of the solution, helping their employees navigate the complex transplant process and get back to living their lives.

Better care for employees is waiting. Employers can create a better future for patients with kidney disease and a better future for their companies, free from the financial burden of self-funding their health care.

Michael A. Rees, MD, PhD, is a kidney transplant surgeon, as well as the CEO and founder of Rejuvenate Kidney Transplant Solutions, which uses a Nobel Prize-winning data-driven process to save lives through kidney transplantation and help self-insured employers gain control over expenses related to kidney failure.