March is National Kidney Month and, while knowing your own personal kidney health is essential, employers may have unique concerns regarding hiring or continuing to employ someone with end stage renal disease (ESRD). Namely, how could it affect their business?
ESRD is a fairly common ailment in the U.S. population. One in three Americans is at risk for kidney disease, and about 200,000 ESRD patients are currently undergoing treatment because their kidneys have lost their ability to adequately filter toxic wastes from the blood.
Two types of treatment are available for ESRD — dialysis, a method of filtering the blood, and kidney transplantation. Depending on the type of dialysis, an employee’s work schedule may be impacted, but not in a way that is unworkable. Accommodations may include flextime to support clinic appointments; providing a clean, private area during work hours; or restructuring heavy physical labor.
Treatment for ESRD is expensive, but the federal government, through Medicare, pays for much of the cost. Most dialysis and kidney transplant patients are eligible for Medicare regardless of their age, though the waiting period for eligibility depends on the treatment. If an employer’s group insurance plan covers kidney disease, the plan may be responsible for some of the employee’s bills. This plan would be the primary payer for 30 months after the patient becomes eligible for Medicare.
Laws and Benefits
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) apply to ESRD patients, and FMLA may also apply to those who decide to donate a kidney. Tax credits may be available to companies that hire someone who is certified as medically handicapped, as well as to employers who make workplace changes to accommodate a handicapped employee.
For more information, visit azkidney.org/employersguide.
Leslie McReynolds is CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona.
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