The Unemployed Are Less Likely to Receive Kidney Transplants

Recent research concludes that a person with a job is 2.24 times more likely to be put on a list for a transplant than someone who is unemployed.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brian Resnick
Aug. 21, 2013, 8:52 a.m.

Un­em­ploy­ment is hor­rible for your health.

This fact is well-doc­u­mented: Long-term un­em­ploy­ment is as­so­ci­ated with de­clines in men­tal well-be­ing and in­creases in mor­tal­ity. In all, “los­ing a job be­cause of an es­tab­lish­ment clos­ure in­creased the odds of fair or poor health by 54 per­cent, and among re­spond­ents with no preex­ist­ing health con­di­tions, it in­creased the odds of a new likely health con­di­tion by 83 per­cent,” a 2009 study in the journ­al Demo­graphy con­cluded. Even those un­em­ployed who re­tain health in­sur­ance after be­ing axed from their jobs have great­er com­plic­a­tions, as this chart from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion in­dic­ates:


But per­haps the more dis­turb­ing in­dic­a­tion is this: Com­bined with the in­creased like­li­hood of health prob­lems, the un­em­ployed have a de­creased like­li­hood of re­ceiv­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate in­ter­ven­tion. This is true even when they re­tain in­sur­ance. Ac­cord­ing to the CDC, “Among adults with private health in­sur­ance, one in sev­en (14.7 per­cent) un­em­ployed adults ex­per­i­enced either a delay or lack of needed med­ic­al care be­cause of cost com­pared with 8.7 per­cent of em­ployed adults.”

This holds true even when the in­ter­ven­tion may mean life or death. End-stage ren­al dis­ease, “the com­plete or al­most com­plete fail­ure of the kid­neys to work,” isn’t pleas­ant. In or­der for a per­son to sur­vive it, they need either con­tinu­al dia­lys­is or a trans­plant. But re­cent re­search re­veals a dis­par­ity fall­ing along em­ploy­ment lines.

In a sur­vey of 429,409 pa­tients with end-stage ren­al dis­ease, those who had jobs were 2.24 times more likely to be placed on a wait­ing list for a kid­ney trans­plant. Once placed on a list, the em­ployed full-time were 1.65 times more likely to re­ceive the trans­plant. And hav­ing in­sur­ance didn’t help the un­em­ployed in this case either. When the re­search­ers ran the num­bers on those un­em­ployed who had in­sur­ance, they found “the res­ults to be es­sen­tially the same and still sig­ni­fic­ant.”

And if all of that isn’t down­er enough for you, con­sider this: The un­em­ployed are much, much more likely to be in need of a kid­ney trans­plant. A 10-year study found “un­em­ploy­ment af­fects up to 75 per­cent of in­cid­ent ES­RD [end-stage ren­al dis­ease] pa­tients,” and “this rate in­creases with time on dia­lys­is.”

So, people with ren­al dis­eases tend to be un­em­ployed, but the un­em­ployed are less likely to re­ceive kid­ney trans­plants when things get dire. The re­search­ers on the trans­plant study sug­gest a couple of reas­ons why the dis­par­ity hap­pens:

  • The un­em­ployed may be seen as ris­ki­er pa­tients. “One of the primary con­cerns of trans­plant cen­ters is the re­cip­i­ent’s abil­ity to af­ford im­mun­osup­press­ive med­ic­a­tions post-trans­plant,” the au­thors write. Those drugs can cost between $2,000 and $14,000  a year. In­ab­il­ity to pay for the drugs  “could be im­plic­ated in al­most half the cases and might be per­ceived as bar­ri­er by a trans­plant pro­gram.”

  • Those stressed with un­em­ploy­ment may not be seek­ing care im­me­di­ately, which can “con­trib­ute to late re­fer­rals by neph­ro­lo­gists and delayed eval­u­ations by trans­plant cen­ters.”

What We're Following See More »
Chaffetz Also Caves, Says He’ll Vote Trump
1 hours ago
DNC Sues RNC Over Trump’s Rigged Vote Comments
1 hours ago

The Democratic National Committee sued the Republican National Committee in U.S. District Court in New Jersey for aiding GOP nominee Donald Trump as he argues that the presidential election is "rigged." The DNC claims "that Trump's argument is designed to suppress the vote in minority communities."

Clinton Foundation Staffers Steered Biz to Bill
9 hours ago

"Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks. The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton."

House Investigators Already Sharpening Their Spears for Clinton
19 hours ago

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz plans to spend "years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton." Chaffetz told the Washington Post: “It’s a target-rich environment. Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

Clinton Super PAC Enters the House Fray
23 hours ago

Priorities USA, the super PAC aligned with the Clinton campaign, which has already gotten involved in two Senate races, is now expanding into House races. The group released a 30 second spot which serves to hit Donald Trump and Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, who is in a tough race to win re-election in Iowa's first congressional district. The super PAC's expansion into House and Senate races shows a high level of confidence in Clinton's standing against Trump.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.