Social Services

Did you know? In the US, almost 16% or 33,000,000 people have kidney disease.

How can the social worker assist me after transplant?

Social workers are a resource, an advocate and a link between patients and services that have been designed to assist patients. There may be difficult social, personal and financial issues that transplant patients face, and social workers can help with these issues. Working as part of a team, with YOU as an active member, the transplant social worker can help you live life to the fullest!

As you may have experienced, kidney disease can change your life. Transplant is another change and can bring new challenges. As a member of your healthcare team, the social worker can work with you to return to many of your previous activities. You may also want to try new activities such as volunteering or a job change.

Where will I be able to get my medicines and how will they be paid?

Transplant medications, especially immunosuppressant (anti-rejection) drugs are very expensive. Fundraising is important!

It is important that you contact your social worker if your insurance changes both pre and post transplant – if you lose Medicare – if you lose your employer health insurance – if you lose Medicaid.

Each year the cost of your medications may change. You will need to review the list that your social worker gave you at the time you met and be prepared to pay that amount at the time of your transplant.

  • Medicare ends 3 years after a successful kidney transplant unless you are disabled for another medical reason or you are 65 years of age.
  • Social Security considers transplant “potentially” disabling for 12 months following transplant.

If you do not have an employer group health plan in place and you have Medicare, you must get a Medicare Part D plan in place before your transplant. Medicare Part D plans are available to people that have Medicare with no “credible” employer group health plan.

If you have a transplant and had your transplant at a Medicare-covered facility and had (or got retroactively) Part A at the time of your transplant, your anti-rejection medications are not covered under Medicare Part D. Anti-rejection medications are covered under Medicare Part B.

If I am out of town, what additional expenses will I have after I leave the hospital?

Transplant recipients who live outside the Dallas area are advised to remain in town for 4 – 8 weeks following surgery so that they can be closely followed by DTI. Expenses that you will need to plan for during this time include lodging, transportation and food. Some private insurance companies will help with these expenses. Medicare and Medicaid will not. If you have relatives or friends in the Dallas area, you might consider staying with them for a few weeks to assist you with your expenses. It is important to do fundraising ahead of time to pay for these expenses. There are three organizations that can assist you in thinking about raising money for your transplant expenses:

National Foundation for Transplants: 800-489-3863 www.transplants.org

HelpHOPELive: 800-642-8399 www.helphopelive.org

COTA: 800-366-2682 www.cota.org (for PKD patients or children under 12 years of age)

How long is Medicare in effect after my transplant?

Medicare coverage ends 36 months after the month of a kidney transplant. Medicare will continue past the 36 months only as long as you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits or are 65 years of age or older. Talk to your transplant social worker about Social Security work incentives that can extend your Medicare.

What is Texas Kidney Health Care (TKHC)?

To qualify for this benefit, you must be a resident of Texas and have a household income of less than $60,000 annually. TKHC can assist you with medication and travel if you have no other insurance coverage.

If you get an employer group health insurance AFTER you receive TKHC, you are responsible for informing TKHC of any insurance and address changes.

If I no longer have Medicare or other insurance, how will I pay for services when I come to the clinic?

Hopefully, the transplant will allow you to return to work and employer insurance will be available. If not, patients will be personally responsible for their costs from DTI.

Is there a member of the transplant team who can help me find financial assistance if I need it?

A social worker is available to provide information regarding resources for financial assistance as well as other concerns that accompany the adjustment to having had a kidney transplant.

Who do I call if I have questions about the bills that I receive from Dallas Nephrology Associates/DTI?

If you ever have questions about your billing statement you may contact the Billing Representative at DTI or call the Billing Department at (214) 358-2300. It is important that you notify us of changes in your insurance so we can avoid billing problems.

Remember!

Your social worker can help you to understand your feelings and find new ways to deal with:

  • Concerns about your job
  • Your marriage and family life
  • Information about healthcare decisions
  • Finding outside help when needed
  • Problem solving

A social worker can guide you to community resources that may help you and your family:

  • Find employment or return to employment
  • Make the best use of your medication coverage
  • Assist you in wellness and exercise

So – be sure to call one of the social workers during your evaluation, while you are on the list, and after you are transplanted if you need help!