MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Chris Childers, MD, PhD
Division of General Surgery
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Los Angeles, CA 90095
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Patients with end-stage renal disease – poorly functioning kidneys – often have to receive dialysis. This typically requires a patient to visit an outpatient clinic several times a week to have their blood filtered by a machine. Over the past few years, two for-profit companies have increased their control over the outpatient dialysis market – DaVita and Fresenius. Combined they control approximately ¾ of the market. A number of concerns have been raised against these for-profit companies suggesting that the quality of care they deliver may be worse than the care delivered at not-for-profit companies. But, because they control so much of the market and because patients have to receive dialysis so frequently, patients may not have much choice in the clinic they visit.
Medicare covers patients who are 65 years or older and also patients on dialysis regardless of age. Medicare pays a fixed rate for dialysis which they believe is adequate to cover the clinics’ costs. However, if a patient also has private insurance, the insurer is required to pay for dialysis instead of Medicare. Whereas Medicare rates are fixed by the federal government, private insurers have to negotiate the price they pay, and may pay much more as a result.