Kidney transplantation has become more resource intensive as recipient complexity has increased and average donor quality has diminished over time. A national retrospective cohort study was performed to assess the impact of kidney donor and recipient characteristics on transplant center cost (exclusive of organ acquisition) and Medicare reimbursement. Data from the national transplant registry, University HealthSystem Consortium hospital costs, and Medicare payments for deceased donor (N = 53 862) and living donor (N = 36 715) transplants from 2002 to 2013 were linked and analyzed using multivariate linear regression modeling. Deceased donor kidney transplant costs were correlated with recipient (Expected Post Transplant Survival Score, degree of allosensitization, obesity, cause of renal failure), donor (age, cause of death, donation after cardiac death, terminal creatinine), and transplant (histocompatibility matching) characteristics. Living donor costs rose sharply with higher degrees of allosensitization, and were also associated with obesity, cause of renal failure, recipient work status, and 0-ABDR mismatching. Analysis of Medicare payments for a subsample of 24 809 transplants demonstrated minimal correlation with patient and donor characteristics. In conclusion, the complexity in the landscape of kidney transplantation increases center costs, posing financial disincentives that may reduce organ utilization and limit access for higher-risk populations.
A national cohort study examines the implications of increasing donor and recipient complexity on the cost of and reimbursement for transplant. See the editorial from Schold and Reed on page 315.