Organ Donor Points to Upcoming Benefit of Health Reform

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August 1, 2012; Source: Osakis Review

Lest one think it is only for-profit health insurance companies that are denying coverage to applicants for questionable reasons, take a look at this situation: Rad Royner donated a kidney to his daughter when hers failed due to her lupus. After doing so, the nonprofit insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Minnesota denied Royner coverage; Royner says the denial was attributed to a high creatinine level in his blood, which may be an indicator of kidney disease. But Royner’s surgeon noted that Royner’s creatinine level was consistent with someone who had donated a kidney. “I don’t think you realize you’re refusing him on bad data,” the doctor reportedly told BCBS.

Research has found that kidney donors enjoy a typical lifespan, which is part of what makes the BCBS denial of coverage hard to swallow for Royner. However, the Osakis Review notes that the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as the much-maligned “Obamacare”) is the “light at the end of the tunnel for Royner.” “For me, 2014 [when the law will go into full effect] means BCBS can’t deny me coverage anymore, so that’s a big plus,” Royner says.

In all the debate about “Obamacare,” this core aspect of the legislation has often gotten lost in the shuffle. As this John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study concludes, the health care reform law “makes a substantial improvement in equitable access to insurance coverage in the United States for people with pre-existing conditions.” Will the unpopular law become more popular once we start seeing more Rad Royners receiving health care coverage? –Mike Keefe-Feldman