Kidney transplant recipients under 65 years of age qualify for Medicare coverage following transplantation, but coverage ends after three years. A new American Journal of Transplantation study found that failure of the transplanted kidney was 990 percent to 1630 percent higher for recipients who lost Medicare coverage before this three-year time point compared with recipients who lost Medicare on time. Those who lost coverage after this point had a lesser, but still marked, increased risk of kidney failure.
Recipients who lost coverage before or after the three-year time point also filled immunosuppressive medications at a significantly lower rate than those who lost coverage on time.
The study included 78,861 Medicare-covered kidney transplant recipients under 65 years of age.
The findings have significant policy implications, and they suggest that a close examination of the risks of Medicare loss, as well as the importance of medical coverage safety nets and access to immunosuppressive medications, must be examined.
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