How Much Does Dialysis Cost?

Last Updated on December 23, 2023
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Dialysis performs the blood filtration that failing kidneys can no longer handle. This lifesaving treatment removes waste and excess fluid from the body for those diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). However, dialysis requires consistent, long-term sessions, making it a costly necessity that patients must plan for.

How Much Does Dialysis Cost Without Insurance?

The price of dialysis is anywhere between $145 and $350 per session, based on where sessions take place, how often they occur, and whether you have health coverage. Uninsured patients pay the entire treatment costs out-of-pocket.

In-Center Hemodialysis Pricing

In-center hemodialysis remains the most utilized form of dialysis across the country based on its availability. During 3-4 hour sessions performed 3 days per week, patients have their blood pumped through an external machine that filters out waste and excess fluid. This form of dialysis costs on average:

  • $72,000 – $88,000+ Annually
  • $250 – $350+ Per Session

At-Home Peritoneal Dialysis Costs

In peritoneal dialysis, the lining of the patient’s abdominal cavity filters blood continuously instead of a machine. Regular exchanges of cleaning fluid through a permanent catheter produce 24/7 filtration. Conducted at home independently, annual costs are lower:

  • $53,000 – $65,000 Annually
  • $145 – $180 Per Daily Session

The per-session price proves far more affordable but daily self-care also takes substantial commitment. Healthcare teams train patients or assisting relatives accordingly.

NCBI‘s predicted annual dialysis cost per patient in the United States is US$98,410 (95% prediction interval, US$62,827–US$133,994). The estimated annual cost for dialysis ranged from US$1560 (Cameroon) to US$89,958 (Netherlands).

According to Talk to Mira, the cost of dialysis without insurance can range from $10,000 to $90,000 annually. The cost per session could range from approximately $250 to $350 for in-center hemodialysis, and $53,000 to $65,000 annually for peritoneal dialysis.

AAKP states that dialysis is expensive, costing around $30,000 per year.

GoodRx notes that without insurance, dialysis treatment can cost $500 or more per session. Medicare’s average annual expenses were $108,656 per person for hemodialysis and $91,716 per person for peritoneal dialysis in 2017.

You can also buy your own dialysis machine for at-home use.

The Rare Costs of Emergency Dialysis

Seeking emergency dialysis at a hospital when centers close can be life-saving but leads to vastly inflated bills of $10,000 per desperate late-night session according to reports. This route is only advisable as an absolute last resort.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a kidney, kidney transplant, pelvic ultrasound, or wound VAC.

How Medicare Covers The Cost of Dialysis

Fortunately, federal law grants all U.S. patients diagnosed with ESKD (end-stage kidney disease) automatic access to Medicare health coverage regardless of their age or background. This safety net program greatly reduces the dialysis bills individuals battle.

Medicare Parts A & B Protect ESRD Patients

Parts A and B each help cut different dialysis costs with separate deductibles and premiums:

  1. Part A covers all inpatient and observation hospital dialysis sessions under its $1,556 deductible for 2023.
  2. Part B handles 80% of outpatient sessions’ costs once the $226 annual deductible is satisfied.

Additional Expenses Also Included

On top of direct dialysis treatment coverage, Medicare patients also use Part B provisions helping to pay for dialysis-related:

  • Doctor appointments
  • Prescription medications
  • At-home dialysis equipment
  • Home self-care training sessions

The program is especially important for the vulnerable ESRD population.

What Out-of-Pocket Costs Do Patients Face?

While clearly invaluable, Medicare does not eliminate all patient payment responsibilities. All enrollees must continue paying:

  • Part B’s $164.90 monthly premium payments.
  • 20% of all outpatient dialysis costs after satisfying their annual deductible.
  • Supplementary costs for uninsured hospital stays over 60 days, which Part A does not cover.

So while vastly improving affordability, copays and unpaid balances still accrue.

The Impact of Medicare Coverage

As said above, all kidney failure patients – regardless of age or background – automatically qualify for Medicare coverage which pays for 80% of dialysis costs from session one. This reduces average annual out-of-pocket fees down to very reasonable levels:

  • Hemodialysis: $17,600 Annually
  • Peritoneal Dialysis: $14,200 Annually

Exceptions include hospital inpatient services exceeding 60 days per benefit period which requires supplemental coverage. Certain secondary insurance plans or Medicaid assistance programs can offset additional expenses.

What Factors Influence Dialysis Costs?

Several aspects contribute to pricing variability that patients face when wondering “How much does dialysis cost?” at a given center or conducting home dialysis sessions:

Dialysis Type and Frequency – Home self-care options cost less overall but take more patient responsibility while intensive in-center hemodialysis comes at a premium for convenience.

Staff Expertise & Experience – Nephrologists and nurses with higher skill levels and specialty training require increased salaries that clinics incorporate into their dialysis services fees.

Geographic Region & Location – More competitive urban regions with multiple clinics average lower pricing while rural monopolized areas often sustain highly elevated rates for treatment.

Dialysis details

Dialysis TreatmentDuring hemodialysis, a dialysis machine will filter out waste products, salts, and fluid from the patient’s kidneys when they are no longer healthy enough to function properly.

Hemodialysis is a technique that can treat advanced kidney failure and can also help patients have active lives, despite having kidneys that can no longer function.

Renal dialysis is, therefore, a treatment that fulfills certain functions that healthy kidneys would perform. It is needed when a patient’s kidneys can no longer support the body’s needs.

Hemodialysis is performed either at the patient’s home or in a hospital or dialysis center. Most patients have three dialysis sessions per week, and each session lasts between 3 and 5 hours.

During dialysis sessions, the patient lies down or sits in a chair, while the blood flows through a filter that acts like an artificial kidney to cleanse the blood of toxins. During this time, the patient may watch television, read, sleep, or talk to other dialysis patients.

How Can Patients Save on Dialysis Costs?

Alongside Medicare coverage, additional tricks are still possible to contain dialysis costs for diagnosed individuals:

Shop Comparison Sites – Online dialysis clinic rating tools listing cost estimates per treatment session empower bargain hunting while ensuring adequate quality standards are met at chosen locations.

Enroll In Charitable Support – Major non-profits like the American Kidney Fund provide needs-based financial aid for treatment-related expenses from medication to insurance premiums reducing key outlays.

Tap Social Security Programs – SSI and SSDI assistance programs offer essential income streams to kidney disease patients unable to work full-time which offset household bills.

Plan Ahead – Proper financial planning and vigilant preventative care from the early stages of chronic kidney disease helps mitigate excessive diagnosis costs and eases future budgeting strains for patients.

There are a bunch of different resources available to help pay for dialysis, including state kidney programs and the National Kidney Foundation. The American Kidney Fund may offer grants that can be used towards these costs as well.

Final Words

Dialysis delivers a modern lifeline for those with failing kidneys. But treatment costs quickly multiply, underscoring insurance coverage importance. Becoming an informed patient, leveraging all available resources provides the best opportunity to achieve affordable, sustainable dialysis given the chronic nature of kidney disease.

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