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Organ donation in China on the rise: does insurance cover such treatments?

The act of donating an organ to save the life of another cannot be understated. When the country banned the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners in 2015, concerns were raised about the future of patients waiting for an often life saving transplant. Luckily for those people, recent statistics have shown that voluntary organ donation in China is on the rise. This week, Pacific Prime China discusses the numbers and explains how health insurance may or may not support such treatments.

Organ donation in China makes country second highest in the world

According to China Daily, the National Health and Family Planning Commission released figures for 2017 that showed as many as 4,080 people in China had donated their organs after death. By the end of October, that had come to a total of 11,037 organs donated to waiting patients, and Huang Jiefu, chairman of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Centre, said he expected the figures to come to more than 5,000 by the end of the year.

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Voluntary live donors were also on the rise, with total donation numbers expected to peak at over 7,000 when added to the number of deceased donors. This figure makes China the second highest in the world for organ donation, just behind the United States with 9,000 donors. Considering the rapid development of organ donation in China, it’s projected that the country could become number one for donation numbers in just three to four years.

What have been some of the biggest challenges facing organ donation in the past?

When it comes to a successful organ donation, there are a number of hurdles both patients, physicians, and donors need to overcome in order to give the gift of life. These include:

  • Finding a matching donor: Because of our biology and the way our bodies work, organs cannot simply be donated from one random person to the next. Making sure there’s a donor match with a patient is one of the most important aspects of organ donation. Without a match, the body of a recipient of a donated organ may reject it, rendering it useless.
  • Social perspectives on donation: Many cultures in different countries around the world have different perspectives on the morality and appropriateness of organ donation. Some forbid it explicitly, whilst others may require certain societal or cultural norms are respected in the process. While none of the major religious and traditional cultures of China may forbid such practices, government authorities have been mindful of their perspectives to ensure donation procedures are as respectful as possible.
  • The cost of donation: Transplants are both complex and expensive procedures, and organ donation in China can result in medical bills of more than RMB 300,000 for a kidney transplant or RMB 630,000 for a liver donation.

The country has made a number of significant moves to ensure organ donation in China remains healthy, including training more surgeons, opening more transplant clinics, and installing new fairness and transparency regulations to encourage voluntary public organ donations.

How can insurance help those who need or donate an organ?

It might not be common knowledge, but there are health insurance plans available that can offer financial support for organ donation in China. The coverage will depend on whether you’re a donor or a recipient, and generally the higher quality insurers will offer better coverage with higher limits. Here’s a few things you should know when it comes to organ donation and health insurance:

Organ recipient

With a comprehensive health insurance plan, there can be complete coverage for all transplant related expenses. This includes costs related to pre-hospitalization, organ procurement, transplant, and the ongoing treatment costs related to ensuring the transplant is successful. The one concern for many can be their benefit limit; insurers will offer full coverage for transplant expenses, but only up to a certain amount. Once a recipient reaches this limit, they’ll be required to cover the ongoing costs out-of-pocket.

Organ donor

For a live organ donor, there can be coverage for the removal and storage of an organ for donation, however the level of coverage and benefits will usually be a lot less than those of the recipient. General exclusions for the donor may also mean that costs for screening, post-donation complications, medication, or treatment post-surgery may not be covered. If you’re thinking of organ donation in China, it is a good idea to speak with your insurance provider beforehand to ensure you understand your health plan works.

Finding the right coverage for healthcare in China

Unfortunately, organ donation is one of those things you usually don’t think about until you actually need it. Many health insurance plans will offer benefits related to such treatments, but it pays to make sure you know what is covered, and how much you’re covered for before it’s too late. When it comes to understanding your insurance policy, using an experienced medical insurance broker like Pacific Prime China can make things simpler.

Our consultants and support teams know insurance policies inside and out, meaning you can be sure to get the right answers from us, every time. If you find your current plan doesn’t provide enough coverage for organ donation in China, or you’re just not sure if it covers it at all – contact our team today! We’re confident we can find the right sort of health insurance to cover your needs, whatever they might be in the future.

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