The Costs Associated With Providing Blood To Patients

Nate Bauman gives us some insight into the costs associated with providing blood to patients.

When making blood recruitment phone calls, I’ve personally encountered quite a few donors who asked a particular question that raised quite a few eyebrows in the blood donation world: “How much do you sell the blood for?”

This is a common misconception among blood donors and blood transfusion recipients that carries quite a bit of weight when the issue arises. As some of you may know, and as some of you may not, when receiving a blood transfusion in the hospital, it unfortunately does cost a pretty penny. What you’re paying for, however, actually isn’t a trade-off for the blood; it’s a tradeoff for the services that make sure the blood is transported, transfused, and tested safely and responsibly.

Donors ask about the costs associated with blood all too often. Just to make things clear, the blood itself  is 100% free. All of the costs are associated with testing, transport, and transfusion. For example, when someone needs a blood transfusion in a hospital, the recipient is charged an amount of money for the blood transfusion, but the blood is free.

The True Costs Behind Blood

When donating blood, it requires a number of services to make sure that the donation that was just made is fit to be transfused to another patient. These services can include anything and everything below:

  • Testing
  • Transporting
  • Registering
  • Notating

…and most importantly,

  • Making sure there are no faults in the donation that could potentially harm the recipient of your blood donation

Why It Matters

Donating blood is a vital action that is needed on a day-to-day basis to help save hundreds of lives across the nation per day. Without blood donors, there is a chance that a critical situation could occur at any given time. The generous volunteers that come out to donate blood to help save lives are true heroes throughout the country, and I would imagine that patients who have received blood in the past and present may be fairly stumped by why they are being charged a bill for a transfusion. To be completely honest, though, there is a method to this madness.

The blood that is donated by those generous volunteers has to go through a number of processes to ensure that it is safe, will get to the patient on time, etc. The first step in that process is transporting the blood to a testing facility to run tests to make sure there are no harmful traits that could potentially put someone at risk. The people who are transporting the blood, testing the blood, and actually administering transfusions the blood are the sole reason why transfusions are possible in the safest manner imaginable.

According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the cost to have a blood transfusion can range from $1,800 to $3,000, which is quite expensive. Like I mentioned earlier, though, the cost that you are paying is not directly for the blood itself. To elaborate, that $1,800-3,000 that a patient pays is to accommodate the expenses of all of the procedures and processes mentioned earlier, such as the testing of the blood and the transportation needed to deliver the blood to the hospitals.

More often than not, when donating blood, you’re donating to a nonprofit organization that does not have the ability to pay the employees within the occupations that make all of this possible. This results in the patient paying for the numerous expenses it takes to make the transfusion possible. Like most pieces of equipment in the medical field, the cost is very high. Similarly, the cost to pay the employees running those particular pieces of equipment is also high, which results in a fairly large payment that needs to come from somewhere. Unfortunately, the payment will come from the recipient.

Informing donors, recipients, and others who just have general questions about this subject is paramount to ensuring that there is no confusion. There is no monetary payment exchanged for blood; the payment is exchanged for the services that are necessary to arrange the safest transfusion possible. This is such a controversial topic among recipients and donors, and I personally wanted to clear up any misconceptions among anyone who has ever questioned the topic.