The Kidney TRUST

Financial Assistance Program Provides Missing Piece of the Puzzle for Dialysis Patients

Nick James, a 45-year-old oil rig technician in Farmington, New Mexico, is on dialysis and waiting for a kidney transplant.  Nick’s first kidney transplant lasted 14 years, but failed three years ago and he’s been back on dialysis since.  Nick has a donor lined up — the Bishop of his local Mormon church — but still needs to lose weight before the surgery can take place.  Kidney disease runs in Nick’s family — three of his brothers have also had kidney failure and all are currently living with successful kidney transplants.

Nick and his family, including his wife, Glenda, daughter Samantha (age 12), and son Nicholas (age 5), have struggled financially since he went back on dialysis.  Nick is thankful that he’s been able to hold on to a job with his long-time employer, but he was obliged to move into a less strenuous and lower paying assignment when his kidneys failed.  Sticking with his job meant that he could retain his health insurance, but like most private plans, his insurance doesn’t cover everything and co-pays for drugs and doctor visits were becoming a real hardship.

That’s where the Kidney TRUST’s pilot Financial Assistance Program (”FAP”) came in.  In late 2007, Nick’s social worker told him about a new grant program designed to help dialysis patients make ends meet.  The FAP is designed for people on dialysis who are having trouble managing co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles for medical treatment and prescription drugs that are covered under their private health insurance plan.

In December of 2007 Nick received word that he’d been selected for a grant that would ultimately provide up to $3,000 to help with eligible expenses incurred during 2008.  He still has a little trouble believing that it happened: “The grant was simply a godsend for me and the entire family.  We were really struggling at the end of 2007.  I was starting to think about skipping some of the drugs I was supposed to be taking and splitting pills to make them last.  With the grant, all the worry went away.  It was really the missing piece of the puzzle for me.”  Nick’s grant was recently renewed for 2009.

According to TRUST President Barbara Lawson, “Nick is exactly the kind of person who the TRUST had in mind when creating this program.  Helping dialysis patients keep working and retain their private insurance gives them more control of their health outcomes.  Patients with private insurance generally have more treatment options than they do on Medicare.  Society benefits because patients on private insurance aren’t drawing on the Medicare trust fund.  Finally, we think that health outcomes are going to be better if patients aren’t having to choose between spending their last few dollars every month on groceries or co-pays for drugs.”

FAP pilot locations include cities in California, Colorado, Iowa and Texas.  Read more about the FAP.