SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House approved a bill to stop insurance carriers from discriminating against organ and bone marrow donors. The bipartisan bill, authored by Rep. Kaohly Vang Her (DFL – St. Paul), prohibits insurers from declining or limiting coverage based solely on a person’s status as a living donor.
“This issue has special significance for me because I have a kidney disease and will eventually need a transplant,” said Rep. Her. “Insurance companies shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against Minnesotans who help save people like me. This bill ensures organ and bone marrow donors can access insurance and don’t have to pay more for coverage. It’s an important step to protect the economic security of living donors.”
Since being a donor is considered a preexisting condition, some people have difficulty finding insurance or face higher premiums after donation. The Affordable Care Act bars health insurance providers from refusing to cover people or charging them more because they have a preexisting condition. However, living donors may experience challenges when they seek other forms of insurance. In a 2015 study performed by Johns Hopkins University, 25 percent of participants who applied for or changed their life insurance policy after donating an organ had difficulty obtaining their desired coverage. 15 percent were charged a higher premium, and 12 percent were denied coverage altogether.
The bill prohibits life, long-term care, and disability insurance carriers from declining or limiting coverage because a person is an organ or bone marrow donor. It also prohibits discriminating in the premium rating, offering, issuance, cancellation, amount of coverage, or any other condition based solely on donor status. If signed into law, the bill will take effect on August 1, 2022.
More Minnesotans may be able and willing to become living donors if insurers can’t discriminate against them. The need for donors is significant, and people who receive organs from living donors have the best outcomes. Living donations can also reduce wait times for those who receive organs from deceased donors and reduce government spending on dialysis and other medical procedures.
This bill is supported by the National Kidney Foundation and Minnesota Insurance and Financial Services Council. Similar legislation has passed in 20 states and is awaiting signature in four more.