Does Medicare Cover Living Organ Donors?

Steven Mott by Steven Mott | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 09/10/2018

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Have you ever thought about becoming a living organ donor? Maybe a relative or friend needs a kidney or bone marrow, for example. Or perhaps you just want to “give back” to your community, or the world at large, by making your organs available for donation.

You can be an organ donor when you’re alive and healthy

You might be surprised to learn about some of the organs you can part with and still thrive. The Department of Health & Human Services lists several organs you may be able to safely donate:

  • Liver (one lobe out of your two lobes). Your liver will generally grow back or “regenerate” the removed portion.
  • Kidney (one of your two kidneys)
  • Part of your pancreas*
  • Part of your intestines*
  • Lung (one of your two lungs, or part of your lung)*

*Although these parts don’t grow back when you’re an organ donor, these organs can still be fully functional.

You may be able to help without being an organ donor

The Department of Health & Human Services notes that you can give of yourself without being an organ donor. You may be able to donate certain tissues, such as:

  • Bone marrow
  • Skin (after certain surgical procedures)
  • Bone (after hip or knee replacement)
  • Umbilical cords

If you’re not sure about being an organ donor, here’s a fast and simple way to donate something (other than money) that could help save someone’s life: give blood. You can ask your hospital or local Red Cross office about blood donation in your vicinity.

Does Medicare cover living organ donors?

If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, your medical expenses related to organ donation may be covered.

If you’re not a Medicare beneficiary, there might be organ donation programs that help cover your medical costs as a living donor. You may want to contact Medicare and your health plan before you go forward with the transplant. Medicare might cover certain expenses if you’re a kidney donor in some cases, but might not cover your expenses as an organ donor for other organs or tissues.

Medicare Part A may cover:

  • Lab tests to see if you’re a compatible match for organ donation
  • A medical examination to see if you’re healthy enough to for organ donation
  • Your hospital inpatient care before, during, and after surgery
  • Any additional inpatient hospital care you may need in case of problems resulting from the organ donation surgery

Medicare Part B may cover:

  • Doctor services during your hospital stay

As an organ donor, as a Medicare beneficiary, you generally don’t have to pay Medicare Part A or Part B deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance for services related to your organ donation.

Living organ donors – talk to your doctor first

If you’re thinking about being a living donor for anything – kidneys or anything else – discuss it with your doctor first and make sure you know all the steps as well as any risks involved.

You can generally arrange to be an organ donor after your death; see Can a Senior Become an Organ Donor?

If you have questions about Medicare coverage and Medicare plan options, I’d be happy to help.

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