A call for harmonization of European kidney care: dialysis reimbursement and distribution of kidney replacement therapies

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2020 Jun 1;35(6):979-986. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfaa035.


Background: We compare reimbursement for haemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD) in European countries to assess the impact on government healthcare budgets. We discuss strategies to reduce costs by promoting sustainable dialysis and kidney transplantation.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey among nephrologists conducted online July-December 2016. European countries were categorized by tertiles of gross domestic product per capita (GDP). Reimbursement data were matched to kidney replacement therapy (KRT) data.

Results: The prevalence per million population of patients being treated with long-term dialysis was not significantly different across tertiles of GDP (P = 0.22). The percentage of PD increased with GDP across tertiles (4.9, 8.2, 13.4%; P < 0.001). The HD-to-PD reimbursement ratio was higher in countries with the highest tertile of GDP (0.7, 1.0 versus 1.7; P = 0.007). Home HD was mainly reimbursed in countries with the highest tertile of GDP (15, 15 versus 69%; P = 0.005). The percentage of public health expenditure for reimbursement of dialysis decreased across tertiles of GDP (3.3, 1.5, 0.7%; P < 0.001). Transplantation as a proportion of all KRT increased across tertiles of GDP (18.5, 39.5, 56.0%; P < 0.001).

Conclusions: In Europe, dialysis has a disproportionately high impact on public health expenditure, especially in countries with a lower GDP. In these countries, the cost difference between PD and HD is smaller, and home dialysis and transplantation are less frequently provided than in countries with a higher GDP. In-depth evaluation and analysis of influential economic and political measures are needed to steer optimized reimbursement strategies for KRT.

Keywords: chronic haemodialysis; cost-saving; kidney transplantation; peritoneal dialysis; reimbursement for dialysis services.