The answer is YES!! if you don’t have health insurance or can’t fund raise a lot of money. For everybody else with insurance you don’t, not even close. A lot of people I talk to think you need to be at least in the middle class with private insurance to qualify for organ transplant. This is a myth. Over 80% of the transplant recipients have Medicare or Medicaid as a primary insurance and have no job and live with social security. As a matter of fact, a transplant center that does not have a contract with Medicare for organ transplant has no chance of long term survival. Medicare is where the money is for the hospitals that do transplants so yes government insurance is good enough. The expensive piece for the patients is the medications after transplant. Most of the patients I follow as a transplant coordinator are on some kind of patient’s assistance because they have limited income and can’t pay for everything, especially the most expensive drugs. Some of this assistance is provided by drug companies themselves and some by charitable organizations. If you ask your transplant or financial coordinator they should be able to assist. Yourself, as a patient or caregiver can actually apply directly.
The majority of patients waiting for kidney transplant are disabled and have Medicare as primary insurance. They have to go to their dialysis treatment three times a week for 4 hours a session. It is very difficult to keep a job that provides insurance in this situation. Most patients are wiped out for the rest of the day after dialysis. They rely on their social security income to make ends meet. They can still qualify to get a kidney transplant when time comes. The average wait time for kidney transplant these days is anywhere between 3 to 5 years. This is why a lot of people are working hard to improve the rate of organ donation because life on dialysis can be miserable.
There are not many people that could pay for their organ transplant surgery cash. The average kidney transplant cost around $500,000 USD without any major complications. A heart-lung transplant is on the most expensive with the price tag being just under $1,000,000 USD.
So, yes it is possible to get an organ transplant if your income is limited and you are disabled because Medicare is the most common insurance. Don’t think that they won’t treat you as good as a private insurance patient because no transplant center wants to lose the lucrative Medicare contract. Your survival is very important for your hospital!