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Kidney disease prevalent; many unaware

Written by Diane Archer

Kidney disease is prevalent in the U.S, posing huge health risks at enormous cost, according to a recent report by Rajesh Balkrishnan. In 2013, Medicare spent $81 billion dollars treating people with kidney failure (End-Stage Renal Disease) and chronic kidney disease. Fourteen percent of Americans, some 26 million adults, suffer from chronic kidney disease–loss of kidney function–and most are unaware.

People with diabetes and high blood pressure are most likely to get kidney disease. People with chronic kidney disease need a range of costly services. Twenty percent of Medicare spending on people over 65 is for treatment of chronic kidney disease.

Drugs alone typically cost $3,675 a patient under Medicare Part D or 46 percent more than other people with Medicare, whose average Part D costs are $2, 509. People with kidney failure average $6,673 in Part D drug costs, 2.6 times what other people with Medicare spend.  And dialysis patients average $7,142 in drug costs.

People with Medicare eligible for a low-income program that helps pay the drug coinsurance or copays only spend one or two percent of total costs out of pocket. But, people who must pay the full share of out-of-pocket costs end up with large bills amounting to about 30 percent of total costs.

Medicare now covers a diabetes prevention program.

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