Does Insurance Cover Cord Blood Banking?
You’d have to tackle two questions when you’re considering banking your newborn’s umbilical cord blood. These questions include “How much does cord blood banking cost?” and “Does insurance cover blood banking?”
In this article, we discuss the various important things you need to understand about cord blood banking and whether your insurance will cover cord blood banking.
What is Cord Blood?
After child birth, the blood that is left in the placenta and the umbilical cord contains special stem cells.
These cells can be transplanted to cure or replace cells that have been damaged by diseases in adults.
Families can have this cord blood collected and stored in a cord blood bank for later use if any family member contracts a serious blood or immune related disease.
Cord blood stem cells have been in use in stem cell medicine for over 30 years. And it can help treat up to 80 serious diseases.
How much does Cord Blood Banking cost?
Costs will depend on whether you use a private or public cord blood bank.
Donations at a public bank are free. Initial placement fees at a private cord blood bank is between $1250 to $2500 with annual maintenance and storage fees ranging between $100 and $300.
Types of Cord Blood Banks
There are two known types of cord blood banks: private and public banks. Let’s talk a little bit about these.
Private Cord Blood Bank
Private cord blood banks are specialized banks established for ‘profit’ companies that save the cord blood banked for specific families.
They are built to use the reserved cord blood for the baby, siblings, parents, or other related family members.
From this it becomes clear that private cord blood banks charge for their storage services.
Several of these banks save all types of samples they receive, notwithstanding the quality.
Unlike public cord blood banks, private cord blood banks are less regulated and there is a lack of accredited oversight institutions to ensure the quality of the cord blood.
Moreover, research reveals that cord blood saved in private banks is more likely to be of lesser quality when considering the number of stem cells and thus, the viability.
In addition, private banks usually advertise their banks directly to customers, promoting blood banks as a type of “insurance” against infections and diseases.
As such, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) doesn’t support this act as it doesn’t contain enough scientific data to back it up.
Public Cord Blood Banks
On the other end of the metric are public banks, which are non-profit organizations.
At these banks, patients can freely donate their newborn’s cord blood.
The main aim of this is so that patients can access cord blood for transplant without any charges. Thus, anyone who has any special use or desire for their child’s cord blood shouldn’t store it in public cord blood banks.
Notably, public cord blood banks are cheaper than private cord blood banks.
Also, cord blood stored here is available to anyone who needs cord blood for medical or research purposes.
However, public cord blood banks are rather fewer than private ones.
Does Insurance Cover Cord Blood Banking?
In normal cases, most health insurance companies will not cover cord blood banking.
However, some insurance companies will pay the costs where it is medically exceptional for a family to have cord blood collected.
That’s if there’s a severe genetic medical disorder that is known in that family.
Even with those conditions, some insurance companies will only cover part of the costs and not the entire cost.
Advantages and Limitations of Cord Blood Banking
Interestingly, private cord blood banking has some advantages and disadvantages that can make you wonder if you should go through with it.
For all it cost, It’s essential to make note of the pros and cons of private cord blood banking:
The Advantages of Cord Blood Banking
- The most important advantage of cord blood banking is that it can save a life. Noting that the stem cells within the cord blood are very vital for restoring and replacing the damaged cells.
- Another benefit of cord blood banking is that the stem cells contained within the cord blood are readily available anytime you need them.
- Also, cord blood can be useful for treating any blood or severe medical conditions in infected family members.
- Lastly, you can also donate cord blood to anyone who may be in dire need of these stem cells.
The Limitations of Cord Blood Banking
- One major limitation is that because cord blood contains fewer stem cells, a patient may require more stem cells from other donors. They are usually not enough to effectively treat an adult. More essentially, only about 8%-12% of the collected specimens can effectively treat a grown-up.
- Cord blood banking can be costly. There are extra fees added to the storage of the cord blood, including processing and collection fees.
- There’s no guarantee that the blood you’re banking contains quality stem cells.
Insurance Providers who may Provide Cover for Cord Blood Banking
- Humana Group
- Highmark Group
- Kaiser Foundation Group
- Cigna Group
- United Health
- Anthem Blue Cross Shield