UnitedHealthcare will pay travel expenses for kidney transplant donors. The announcement was made yesterday at the 2016 American Transplant Congress in Boston by Jon Friedman, MD, chief medical officer for Optum’s Complex Medical Conditions programs. Optum is the health services company that manages transplant services for UnitedHealthcare. Both companies are collaborating with the American Society of Transplantation (AST) and American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), which hosted the congress, to improve outcomes, reduce costs and enhance the experience of donors and recipients.

UnitedHealthcare insurance plans will reimburse lodging and travel expenses for the kidney donor and a companion, starting with the donor’s initial evaluation to determine suitability, through follow-up evaluations up to two years after donor surgery. The travel reimbursement, up to $5,000, will be available for all donors whose intended transplant recipients are enrolled in UnitedHealthcare fully insured plans as of the new policy year, Jan. 1, 2017.

“Many healthy people are eligible to donate a kidney, yet only one-third of kidney transplants come from living donors,” said Friedman, who has clinical oversight and responsibility for transplantation and end-stage renal disease for Optum. “This initiative will make it easier for living kidney donors to provide a life-saving gift to patients and their families.”

According to the AST, 96% of kidney donors experience donation-related financial consequences.