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Kidney donors in Israel to be paid by HMOs

Not long ago we wrote about organ donation and how the current shortages could likely be solved if we let the market work. The most obvious way to accomplish this is by paying organ donors. Governments have been quite hostile to this idea around the globe.

On Monday, Israel took some halting steps in this direction. As reported in a story on (full text here):

“The Jerusalem District Court instructed health maintenance organizations to pay kidney donors NIS 63,000 to cover their expenses, but did not rule on the issue of whether it’s allowed to pay for a kidney. “

So donors aren’t technically getting “paid,” but they do end up with an extra $13,000 in their pocket. Label it what you will, but if you inflate the expense enough, I’d call that getting paid. Not that $13,000 is full payment. My guess is that the market clearing price, at least in the United States, might be more like $30,000-$50,000. Even at that price, the payment to the donor would represent a relatively small fraction of the overall price of the operation.

Recently, in Haaretz, that same newspaper, the renowned economist Ariel Rubinstein wrote a book review of Freakonomics. All I can say is that I have seen the English translation and that I am glad that it is only available in Hebrew online! Despite (or perhaps because of the review), Rubinstein himself told me that Freakonomics jumped to #2 on the bestseller list in Israel the week after his review was published.

(Thanks to Judith Ronat for sending me the link on organ donation.)