The Association of Dialysis Facility Payer Mix With Access to Kidney Transplantation

JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Jul 3;6(7):e2322803. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.22803.


Importance: Insurance coverage for patients with end-stage kidney disease has shifted toward more commercially insured patients at dialysis facilities. The associations among insurance status, facility-level payer mix, and access to kidney transplantation are unclear.

Objective: To determine the association of dialysis facility commercial payer mix and 1-year incidence of wait-listing for kidney transplantation, and to delineate the association of commercial insurance at the patient vs facility level.

Design, setting, and participants: This retrospective population-based cohort study used data from the United States Renal Data System from 2013 to 2018. Participants included patients aged 18 to 75 years initiating chronic dialysis between 2013 and 2017, excluding patients with a prior kidney transplant or with major contraindications to kidney transplant. Data were analyzed from August 2021 and May 2023.

Exposure: Dialysis facility commercial payer mix, calculated as the proportion of patients with commercial insurance per facility.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was patients added to a waiting list for kidney transplant within 1 year of dialysis initiation. Multivariable Cox regression, censoring for death, was used to adjust for patient-level (demographic, socioeconomic, and medical) and facility-level factors.

Results: A total of 233 003 patients (97 617 [41.9%] female patients; mean [SD] age, 58.0 [12.1] years) across 6565 facilities met inclusion criteria. Participants included 70 062 Black patients (30.1%), 42 820 Hispanic patients (18.4%), 105 368 White patients (45.2%), and 14 753 patients (6.3%) who identified as another race or ethnicity (eg, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and multiracial). Of 6565 dialysis facilities, the mean (SD) commercial payer mix was 21.2% (15.6 percentage points). Patient-level commercial insurance was associated with increased incidence of wait-listing (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.86; 95% CI, 1.80-1.93; P < .001). At the facility-level and before covariate adjustment, higher commercial payer mix was associated with increased wait-listing (fourth vs first payer mix quartile [Q]: HR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.67-1.91; P < .001). However, after covariate-adjustment, including adjusting for patient-level insurance status, commercial payer mix was not significantly associated with outcome (Q4 vs Q1: aHR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.95-1.09; P = .60).

Conclusions and relevance: In this national cohort study of patients newly initiated on chronic dialysis, although patient-level commercial insurance was associated with higher access to the kidney transplant waiting lists, there was no independent association of facility-level commercial payer mix with patients being added to waiting lists for transplant. As the landscape of insurance coverage for dialysis evolves, the potential downstream impact on access to kidney transplant should be monitored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Retrospective Studies