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Study finds discrepancy in dialysis costs between private, government insurers

(Daily Bruin file photodaily bruin file photo
Government insurance programs pay a fixed rate for dialysis care. However, private insurance companies must negotiate with dialysis clinics on the price of treatment.

By Andrew Fortin-Caldera

May 13, 2019 10:47 pm

UCLA researchers found private insurers covering dialysis patients paid four times as much as government insurance programs for treatments, according to a study released Monday.

The study, authored by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine and the Fielding School of Public Health, said government insurance programs pay an average of $248 per dialysis session, while private insurers pay an average of $1,041 per session.

Government insurance programs such as Medicare pay a fixed rate for dialysis care, according to the study. However, private insurance companies must negotiate with dialysis clinics on the price of treatment.

Researchers reviewed annual financial statements from DaVita, a private insurance company which controls 37% of the dialysis market in the United States, to arrive at their conclusions. However, according to the study, this method has some limitations, as some private insurers may pay more or less than the $1,041 average, and the results may not apply to dialysis providers other than DaVita.

According to the study, previous research has shown prices for medical care are higher in the United States than in any other developed nation, and the study’s data supports these findings in the dialysis market. The findings could potentially lead to policies that reduce prices for dialysis treatment, especially among private insurers, according to the study.

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