American Clinical Laboratory Association
Oct. 11, 2012
Controlling Chronic Kidney Disease Saves Lives and Money
Low-Cost Lab Tests Help Slow a Disease Costing $60 Billion Annually
WASHINGTON – There’s little debate about one health care issue: Taking steps to control chronic kidney disease will save lives and money.
That’s especially true if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, which puts you at high risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD). Clinical laboratory tests to detect CKD cost less than $15 and could help you take steps to prevent kidney damage — and the $82,000 annual cost of dialysis if your kidneys fail.
“More than 20 million Americans have CKD, and many of them don’t know it. We want to especially remind those people at increased risk for this disease that inexpensive lab tests can help protect and save lives, as well as dollars,” said Alan Mertz, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA).
About 40 percent of people with diabetes will develop CKD. High blood pressure also is a leading cause of the disease. CKD, which often goes undetected because there are few symptoms, can lead to serious kidney damage and even complete kidney failure and a life on kidney dialysis. Other complications include anemia and cardiovascular disease.
The prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure is growing rapidly, putting ever more Americans at risk for CKD.
Two lab tests are critical in detecting CKD, says Mertz. The urine albumin test measures excessive protein in urine and Medicare pays about $7.33 for this test, he says. The other test is the estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate, or eGFR, which focuses on how well kidneys are removing waste from the patient’s blood. For that test on its own, Medicare pays about $7.28.
Compare this to the cost of a patient on kidney dialysis — about $82,000 per year. The U.S. spends about $60 billion annually to treat kidney disease and related illnesses.
“We want people to be aware of the importance of getting regular checkups and the right tests for diabetes and kidney disease. This is especially important for vulnerable populations at higher risk of developing the disease, including African-American and Hispanic groups.”
The hemoglobin A1C test, which measures blood glucose and does not require fasting, can be used to detect diabetes. Medicare pays about $13.75 for the test. Patients should ask their doctors about getting the tests if they are at risk.
The American Clinical Laboratory Association is a non-profit group representing the nation’s clinical laboratories. Results for Life, the group’s educational campaign, focuses on the value of laboratory medicine. See .