Manitoba becomes first province to reimburse home dialysis patients for extra costs

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Thursday, August 20, 2015

Patients who have their hemodialysis treatment done at home will now have additional costs for water and electricity bills covered by a first-of-its-kind provincial program, Health Minister Sharon Blady announced today.

"Utility costs can add up for patients who undergo hemodialysis treatment at home, and we will be there to reimburse additional costs," said Blady. "We hope these new supports will encourage more patients to undergo hemodialysis treatment in the comfort of their own home and enjoy a better quality of life."

The minister added that additional hydro and water expenses can range from $704 to $2,116 a year in Winnipeg. Reimbursement will be based on utility use associated with individual patient's dialysis schedules and the type of home hemodialysis machine used. More details about the provincial reimbursement program will be available for those who are eligible in early October.

The operating costs for home dialysis treatments are nearly 50 per cent less than hospital dialysis, reducing the need for hospital space and requiring the support of fewer health-care workers.

"With the support of this program, we hope to see even more people utilizing home hemodialysis and experiencing all the benefits it has to offer," said Dr. Mauro Verrelli, Medical Director, Manitoba Renal Program.

The announcement took place at dialysis patient Mukhtiar Singh's home. Singh has been undergoing home hemodialysis since 2009 and has been on various types of dialysis since 1996. Singh is one of many patients who advocated for the creation of a reimbursement program.

"It's a historic kind of announcement - a pioneering step. I am sure others will follow and this will make the home hemo choice more popular," Singh said. "It's a win-win situation. Patients feel better, they live longer, less medication, less hospital visits. The [home hemodialysis] program saves millions of dollars if we reach our potential."

As of August 10, 60 patients were undergoing hemodialysis treatments at home, allowing patients to schedule their own treatment times. The minister noted this option also requires less travel for health-care patients and less exposure to infections.

The minister noted Manitoba is the only province in Canada to offer this type of reimbursement program and it will be administered by the Kidney Foundation of Canada - Manitoba Branch.

"The Kidney Foundation of Canada commends the Province of Manitoba for launching this reimbursement program for home hemodialysis patients, covering the extra water and power costs incurred during these treatments," said Val Dunphy, Executive Director, Kidney Foundation of Canada - Manitoba Branch.  "This is the first provincial program of its kind in Canada and will truly assist families affected by kidney disease."

"When people with less complex care needs can do their hemodialysis at home, it reduces the need to build and staff additional dialysis centres, which ensures funds can be further invested in front-line care," said Blady. "With this program, Manitoba has again found an innovative way to help patients get care that is better for them, enhance health service delivery and increase health capacity while reducing costs to the provincial health system."

Source: Government of Manitoba

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