Organ Donation as “Pre-existing Medical Condition”

The Washington Post reports that some living organ donors in the U.S. are unable to obtain health insurance coverage after donating a kidney or portion of their liver.  A representative for the trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, claims that organ donation does not provide health insurers with a sufficient basis for denying health insurance coverage.  However, an article in the American Journal of Transplantation states that an estimated 3-11 % of donors encounter difficulties obtaining health insurance or face dramatically increased rates for insurance coverage.  Advocates for living donors at transplant centers confirm that they are familiar with cases in which individuals have been denied health insurance coverage following organ donation.  The AJT study suggests that fear of losing health insurance coverage leads some individuals to decide not to donate.  Denial of health insurance coverage on the basis that donating an organ is the equivalent of having a “preexisting medical condition” appears to be a particular problem for individuals trying to purchase insurance through small business enterprises or on the individual market.

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