There are several patient organizations and special interest groups that provide information and educational materials to persons with kidney disease and to the general public. Some of these organizations are:
LANCASTER AREA KIDNEY ASSOCIATION
P.O. Box 1446
Lancaster, PA 17604
Local support organization that offers periodic social events, an annual educational program, annual recognition program and limited financial assistance.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF KIDNEY PATIENTS
3505 E. Frontage Road, Suite 315
Tampa, FL 33607-1796
1(800) 749-2257 or
Annual membership cost is $15 and includes a subscription to "Renalife"
AMERICAN KIDNEY FUND
6110 Executive Blvd., Suite 1010
Rockville, MD 20852
KIDNEY FOUNDATION OF CENTRAL PA
Olde Liberty Square
4813 Jonestown Rd., Suite 101
Harrisburg, PA 17109
NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION
30 East 33rd St.
New York, New York 10016
(800) 622-9010 or
POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY RESEARCH FOUNDATION
9221 Ward Parkway, Suite 400
Kansas City, MO 64114-3367
1(800) PKD-CURE or
The following links are not maintained by Lancaster General Health, but provide useful information. Clicking on them will launch a seperate browser window.
Commonly Asked Questions
Travel With Dialysis
As a dialysis patient (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis) you can still travel! With some planning and help from your dialysis social worker or peritoneal dialysis nurse, traveling can be done quite comfortably and safely. Traveling while on dialysis is known as transient dialysis.
Hemodialysis: Finding a Transient Dialysis Unit
To arrange to have dialysis in another city, ask the dialysis center social worker to look up dialysis units in the city(s) of your choice or close to where you will be staying. You must advise the social worker the dates you will be away. Many dialysis units require four or more weeks notice, so if you are going away, make your plans early! Also, please give your social worker three months notice if your travels will take you to the shore or to Florida.
Paying for Transient Dialysis
Medicare pays 80 percent of your dialysis treatment(s). Your transient unit will directly bill Medicare for you. Many dialysis units ask for the remaining 20 percent of the cost to be paid at the time of your first treatment. (Sometimes units may ask for a deposit ahead of time. Your social worker will let you know if this is required.) Often you can then get a receipt from the transient unit and submit it to your group insurer. You will then be reimbursed after you return home. No matter what your insurance (Medicare or group insurance), please remember to take your insurance cards with you to the transient unit, since units will bill private insurances as well. HMOs require that the patient obtain a referral from their PCP prior to treatment.
How Will They Know About Me?
You may wonder how the transient dialysis unit will know about the specifics of your treatment. Information from your dialysis records will be sent to the transient unit ahead of time. You will also need to hand carry copies of your last three treatment sheets and possibly updated lab work. The transient unit can also contact our unit with any questions regarding your treatment and overall care plan.
Peritoneal Dialysis: How Can I travel?
If you are a peritoneal dialysis patient, you are also able to travel. Please notify your home dialysis nurses of where you will be traveling and when. This should be done at least two weeks before your trip, if traveling in the U.S.A., and six weeks ahead if you are traveling outside the country.
If you are taking a short trip, you can take your supplies with you. If you are traveling far away or for an extended amount of time, Fresenius (your dialysis supply company) can deliver supplies to your destination, whether it is a hotel or a home.
Your peritoneal dialysis nurses will call the city you are visiting to request that a dialysis unit serve as your back-up. This is in case you have any medical questions or problems while you are traveling. Your dialysis information will be sent to this unit so they are familiar with your medical situation.
If you have any further questions about transient dialysis, please ask your peritoneal dialysis nurses.
How is Treatment Paid For?
There are several means to cover the cost of dialysis treatments. They include Medicare, private insurance, employer group health insurance, and state medical assistance programs.
Until 1973, Medicare only provided coverage to persons age 65 and over. Starting in 1973, Medicare was extended to persons with kidney disease, regardless of age. Medicare is also provided two years after a person is eligible for SSD (Social Security Disability).
TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR MEDICARE YOU MUST:
Be in chronic renal failure and require ongoing dialysis treatments and/or require a kidney transplant.
Have paid into the Social Security system through present or past employment OR be the spouse or dependent of someone who has done so.
There are TWO parts to Medicare: Part A (Hospitalization), and Part B (Medical).
Medicare Part A is automatically provided without charge. As of 2005, there is an $876.00 deductible to be met per benefit period (the deductible amount is subject to change each year). If you have a supplemental insurance plan, this deductible may be covered.
A benefit period allows up to 90 inpatient hospitalization days. To start a new benefit period, you must be out of the hospital for 60 days in a row. In addition to those 90 inpatient hospital days, you have a lifetime total of 60 inpatient hospital reserve days, which are not renewable.
Medicare Part B must be specifically requested. It costs $78.20 per month in 2005, which is subject to increase each year. There is a $110 annual deductible, and then Part B covers 80% of "reasonable and customary charges" (per Medicare guidelines). Part B coverage includes outpatient dialysis, home dialysis, and physician charges.
When Does Medicare Coverage Begin???
FOR IN-CENTER HEMODIALYSIS PATIENTS: Medicare coverage begins three months after starting hemodialysis. If you have an employer group health insurance, Medicare will be a secondary payer source for an additional 30 months. At the end of this 33 month period, (three months plus the 30 months), Medicare will then become primary. If you have a NON-GROUP insurance policy, Medicare will become the primary payer source after the third month of being on dialysis.
FOR PERITONEAL DIALYSIS PATIENTS: Medicare coverage begins the same month as you begin peritoneal dialysis. If you have an employer group health insurance, Medicare will be a secondary payer source for an additional 30 months. At the end of this 30 month period, Medicare will then become primary. If you have a NON-GROUP insurance policy, Medicare will become the primary payer source the first month of being on peritoneal dialysis.
Medicare coverage ends 36 months after the month you no longer require maintenance dialysis treatments or 36 months after the month of a kidney transplant. There is no waiting period for reinstatement, regardless of treatment choice, if your transplant fails.
How Do I Apply for Medicare Coverage?
Call the Social Security Administration at 1(800)772-1213
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT YOU DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR EXISTING INSURANCE AS MEDICARE DOES NOT COVER 100% OF THE COST OF DIALYSIS AND YOU MAY HAVE DIFFICULTY OBTAINING ANOTHER FORM OF HEALTH INSURANCE.
What about Non-Group Insurance?
Non-group Insurance: It is very important that you be familiar with the benefits available through your medical insurance. You can educate yourself about your benefits by referring to the literature provided to you by the insurance company. You may obtain current information by calling your insurance company directly.
It has become increasingly difficult for persons under the age of 65 who have kidney disease to obtain private insurance after they start treatment. Therefore, it is vital that you keep/maintain whatever insurance you have.
What about State Insurance?
STATE MEDICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
If you are not entitled to Medicare and/or other forms of insurance benefits, you may be eligible for state medical assistance. Eligibility is based on financial need. Contact your local Department of Public Welfare for current eligibility guidelines.
CHRONIC RENAL DISEASE PROGRAM
This state-funded program can be applied to as a payer of last resort to help defray some of the associated costs of dialysis. It also provides coverage for many of the medications that dialysis patients need to take. There is a $6 copay for generic medications, and $9 copay for brand name medications that are available under this program. The program is also based on financial need but is more generous than medical assistance in regard to eligibility guidelines. Talk with your renal social worker to determine if you could apply for this benefit.
IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY EMPLOYED, WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO MAINTAIN YOUR EMPLOYMENT AS LONG AS YOUR HEALTH PERMITS. RE-ENTERING THE JOB MARKET AND RE-ESTABLISHING THIRD PARTY INSURANCE ARE MORE DIFFICULT FOR PERSONS WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS.
What If I Am No Longer Able to Work? What Resources Are Available to Financially Assist Me?
Social Security Disability (SSD)
Social Security Disability eligibility is determined by the Social Security Administration, SSA. Eligibility is based upon your medical condition and previous Social Security contributions from employment. SSA does not credit partial or short term disability. Under SSA's definition, you are disabled if you are unable to perform any work for which you are qualified. Your disability must be expected to last for at least 12 months. You should apply as soon as you become disabled since the process can take several months. If you are deemed eligible, you will start receiving SSD checks after you have been off of work for six consecutive months.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
If you have a very limited income, or if you are blind, disabled, or over the age of 65 you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You may apply for this at the same time you are applying for SSD. There is no previous work history required in order to be eligible for this program.
Additional State Welfare Programs
You may wish contact the local Department of Public Welfare to determine if you are eligible for any of the following programs:
- Aid to Families with Dependent Children
- Aid to the Blind
- Utility Assistance
- Food Stamps
Vocational Rehabilitation Programs
Pennsylvania has an Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. They may be a resource to help patients develop new work skills so that the individual can re-enter the job market. Contact your social worker for more details.
Transportation to Dialysis
If you need help with transportation to and from dialysis, talk with a dialysis center social worker. The social worker will advise you of what services are available in your area and will assist you in completing the necessary paperwork to obtain transportation.