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Resource Guide for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant
Understandably, the prospect of a transplant is stressful enough without worrying about finances too. But, the reality is that transplants are costly. Aside from medical costs, there may be additional out-of-pocket expenses. The financial burden on a family may become difficult if advanced planning is neglected. If you can anticipate expenses, you may plan for how they will be met. A preliminary list of expenses, other than those covered by insurance, might include:
If your transplant requires that you must search for a related or unrelated donor, expect to incur the following kinds of expenses:
Stem cell harvest and donor expenses: The cost of the actual collection of cells from the donor, his/her medical tests, and possible travel expenses may be high. Usually there is a fixed fee for the collection and delivery of stem cells. The average rate is about $3,500Ė$5,000 if itís a related donor. The average rate for an unrelated donor is $15,000Ė$50,000. Donors are not paid for any part of their stem cell donation. All of their medical and traveling expenses are covered by the patientís insurance so that there are no costs to the donor.
The actual transplant: The procedure is expensive. Insurance companies vary widely on coverage. It is possible that much of your transplant, if not the entire cost, will be covered. Call your insurer to check on your coverage or have your transplant center make the contact. If your insurer refuses to cover expenses, be persistent and consider speaking with legal counsel or someone with expertise in the insurance field (see Resource Listing).
Post-transplant: Itís difficult to predict your expenses after the transplant. Much will depend on your recovery time, which may range from six months to a year. Your insurance company will probably cover testing and may also cover follow-up visits. However, there are many out-of-pocket expenses. Medications can be very costly, especially if you do not have prescription coverage. Ask about your coverage prior to transplant.
Costs may vary depending on your treatment center. Although the center may not be able to quote you an exact dollar amount for your transplant, do request a general estimate for what you can expect to pay. This is especially important if your insurance coverage is limited.
In general, transplant costs have declined over the years. This is due, in part, to the increased use of outpatient care. The rise in the number of autologous stem cell transplants, where donor expenses may be eliminated, is another cost reduction factor. An autologous transplant may range from $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the circumstances. An allogeneic transplant may range from $150,000 to $200,000 (see Insurance).
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