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Paying for your transplant

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The cost of a lung transplant in the United States varies among hospitals but is typically hundreds of thousands of dollars. When you add the costs of the medications that you will have to take afterward, the expenses in the first year alone can approach a million dollars. Transplant centers have financial advisers on staff who will help you figure out how to pay for your transplant and after-care.

The money for your transplant will likely not come from only one source. Your pool of resources may include private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, fundraising campaigns, and charitable organizations. It is important to educate yourself about your options. Research what your out-of-pocket expenses will be. Many insurance plans pay 80 percent of the cost, leaving you to pay 20 percent. Some insurers will cover transplant-related expenses, such as lodging and gas. Check to see if that benefit is part of your plan and ask whether there is a cap on how much the insurer will pay.

Many transplant centers require you to prove that you have a certain amount in the bank (or in a 401(k) or IRA) before they will list you. The hospitals want to know that you will be able to pay for your medicine, travel, food, transportation, and lodging in the first year after the transplant. Without anti-rejection medicine after the surgery, your body will reject your new lungs and they will fail. The financial requirement, therefore, not only gives you the best chance for recovery, but it also ensures that scarcely donated organs will not be “wasted.”

If your insurance co-payment is a financial burden, ask your transplant center about creating a monthly payment plan for you. Propose an amount that you can handle. Hospitals are often willing to negotiate a payment plan.

Your transplant team realizes that the costs associated with transplant can seem overwhelming. The team may direct you to several organizations that help transplant patients raise money. Some are free, and some may charge a fee. You can often fundraise online through these organizations, which may be easier for you and your donors.

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