For people with chronic kidney disease, there are different treatment options available. We are going to look at the costs involved in dialysis treatment in different countries. Before we look at the costs – what are the types of dialysis available to patients?

A quick look at the types of dialysis

The two types of dialysis options available to patients are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In hemodialysis, an artificial kidney is used to remove waste and extra chemicals and fluid from your blood. This treatment typically lasts about four hours and should be done three times a week. Peritoneal dialysis is when the blood is cleaned inside your body. A plastic tube is inserted into the abdomen to give access. During treatment, the abdominal area is filled with dialysate through the catheter. The extra fluid and waste products are drawn out of the blood and into the dialysate. [1]

What are the costs involved?

In the United States, there are different health insurance options where they try to pay up to 80% of the costs for patients who need dialysis treatment. This is dependant on the type of insurance the patient has. Patients still pay their monthly contributions for the chosen insurance. There are special needs plans where the membership is limited to people with specific diseases. The benefits are then tailored accordingly to best meet the needs of people with kidney failure. [2]

In New Delhi, India, a completely free-of-charge kidney dialysis center opened, earlier this year. The center has 101 beds for patients. They are looking to increase capacity to 1000 beds. All services are free of charge to the patients, and they even provide free food during the treatment. [3]

In sub-Saharan Africa, about 25% of people suffer from chronic kidney disease. Of the 25%, only a small fraction is able to receive dialysis treatment, mostly due to not being able to reach dialysis centres. The patients who are able to get to dialysis centres rarely sustain treatment due to the high costs of dialysis. In a study done by Dr Valerie A. Luyckx of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, about fifty-nine percent of adults and fourty-nine percent of children stopped life-saving dialysis treatments for financial reasons. These patients pay out of pocket for the treatment, and this causes these families to plunge deeper into poverty. In Nigeria government agreed to pay for the first two weeks of dialysis, as great as this notion, as small the difference to the patients, cost-wise. [4]

In South Africa, the estimated cost for dialysis treatment is far north of R150000.00 per year. Fortunately for patients on medical aid, these dialysis treatments are covered or partially covered depending on the individual plan. Discovery medical aid has a range of plans that each provides different terms for payment of dialysis. In most cases, an approved network hospital or provider should be used for the patient to not pay extra themselves. [5]

Unfortunately, many patients do not belong to a medical scheme and would therefore have to pay out of their own pockets for the treatment. Some dialysis centers/hospitals require a deposit before treatment may start. [6]

Are there other options available to patients?

The biggest problem with dialysis treatment is the cost. For many patients in poverty, it is simply not feasible to go for treatment and the option of a kidney transplant becomes more attractive as this is the more cost-effective option for patients with kidney failure.

Keywords: Dialysis, Treatment, Medical insurance




  1. Adobe Stock Image by Семен Саливанчук
  2. Adobe Stock Image by sergklein

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