Home kidney dialysis now covered by Medicare

Your kidneys are workin' it!

New Medicare payment rules for kidney dialysis are making it easier for patients to have their treatment at home.

The changes, which just went into effect, are motivating more clinics to teach the do-it-yourself form of dialysis using specially designed portable equipment.

Some patients may be nervous or intimated at the thought of home dialysis. Currently, only 8 percent of kidney patients do dialysis at home and many patients do not know that have that option.

Home dialysis includes an intensive training program. People who prefer the home program, according to physorg.com, cite the convenience as a major factor in choosing home dialysis. The possibility of traveling with the machine gives them more freedom, as well as setting a more flexible schedule.

Despite concerns about infection and control in the home environment, a study published last year in The Archives of Internal Medicine found that patients “with end-stage kidney disease who have dialysis at home fare just as well as their counterparts who do hemodialysis,” traditionally performed at a dialysis center.

One additional key factor that is boosting home treatment is that new Medicare rules also pay physician reimbursement for patient education. This means that the home care training is no longer a burden to the system, but a covered cost.

As for the patients, Dr. Leslie Spry of the National Kidney Foundation says, once they “experience the difference between home and in-center dialysis most will not return to in-center treatment.”

Spry is a consulting physician for the National Kidney Foundation. In 2003, he also established at the first home hemodialysis program in the Midwest at his home clinic, the Dialysis Center of Lincoln in Nebraska.

To learn more about home kidney dialysis, check out this handy, downloadable comparison chart.

New to dialysis and Medicare? For a checklist of questions for your treatment plan and physician, click here.

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