In 1972, Medicare benefits were extended to cover the high cost of medical care for most individuals suffering from permanent kidney failure also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). People whose kidneys have failed need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. To this day, kidney failure is one of only two medical conditions that gives people the option to enroll in Medicare without a two-year waiting period, regardless of age. Because Medicare for people with ESRD was established separately and later, there are some specific rules around eligibility and coverage of Medicare for dialysis and transplant patients.
The following applies to people who receive Medicare ONLY because they have kidney failure. For those who are also eligible for Medicare based on age (over 65), or who have received Social Security Disability for 24 months, the following does not apply.
To help kidney patients learn about their insurance options the National Kidney Foundation has developed a wealth of resources and tools.
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