VA Benefits and Kidney Disease Treatment
Kidney disease can be costly. There may be new medicines for you to take and many clinic visits. If your kidneys fail, you may need a kidney transplant or dialysis.
The good news is, there is help for you. You don’t have to go it alone. If you are an enrolled veteran, the VA will help make sure that you get the care you need, and cost will not be a factor in the care you get. Your social worker can help you find local resources and can help you with VA health care benefits, employer insurance, and Medicare questions.
Are you homeless? The VA can help.
Call the National VA call center for homeless veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).
The VA Pays for Kidney Transplants
When you are eligible for VA health care, your kidneys are covered, too. If your kidneys fail and you need a kidney transplant, the VA will help you.
You can get a transplant at one of the VA’s six regional transplant centers in:
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Nashville, TN
- Iowa City, IA
- Portland, OR
- Miami, FL
- Birmingham, AL
The VA will pay for your travel to the center and for the surgery. The VA will pay for a kidney donor to travel to a VA transplant center for tests and transplant surgery, too. And, the VA will pay for the immune suppressing drugs you need to keep the new kidney healthy—for as long as the kidney lasts. To learn more about what to expect from a transplant, visit the Treatment Room. To learn more about VA transplant services, talk to your care team or visit the VA national transplant program website.
The VA Pays for Dialysis of All Kinds
Dialysis is a service that is part of your VA health benefits. If there is a VA dialysis center in your town, you may be able to get your care there. If not, the VA will pay for you to get home dialysis or in-center care from a non-VA center. The VA will have a contract with the center. Your VA social worker will help you work out the details of where to go to get the treatment you want. To learn more about all the different ways to do dialysis, visit the Treatment Room.
VA Grants May Pay for Home Changes for Dialysis
If you choose a type of dialysis that is done at home, your home may need changes to the wiring or plumbing. These changes can be costly. VA grants for “home improvements and structural alterations” (HISA) may be able to help you. Talk to your VA social worker if you want to do home dialysis and need help to pay for wiring and plumbing changes.
Kidney Failure Entitles Most U.S. Citizens to Medicare
You may be entitled to Medicare* if your kidneys fail. Medicare is a national health insurance plan. You earn credits toward Medicare by working and paying taxes. You must qualify for Medicare by having enough credits for your age—or being a spouse or child of someone who has enough credits. Once you get Medicare, it is not just for kidney disease. There are three ways to get Medicare:
- Be over 65
- Be disabled
- Have kidney failure at any age
You DO need to apply for Medicare—it won’t just come to you. Your social worker or the Social Security office can help you if you have questions about the forms—or about how the VA and Medicare or your other health plan work together to get you the care you need.
* Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.
Paying for CKD Care
- The VA will pay for a kidney transplant and the medications to keep it healthy.
Not scored If you get your transplant at a VA center, your medications are paid for, too. You may have a small co-pay for medications.
- The VA has its own regional transplant centers.
Not scored The VA has its own network of transplant centers, and will pay for your travel to and from these centers.
- If you need dialysis, you can get it at a VA center or in the community if the VA does not have a center near you.
Not scored Dialysis is a service that veterans are entitled to. The VA will pay for it at a VA center or in the community.
- If your home needs plumbing or wiring changes for a hemodialysis machine:
Not scored A HISA grant (home improvements and structural alternations) may help you pay for plumbing or wiring changes.
- Which of these is a way to get Medicare?
Not scored Besides your VA care, you may also be able to get Medicare.