'Mutual Insurance Pool' Could Improve Transplant Organ Shortage

Two Simon Fraser University researchers say a chronic shortage of human organs needed for transplant in North America could be effectively alleviated through the implementation of a traditional "insurance" program.

In an article to be published this fall in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, SFU business professors Aidan Vining and Richard Schwindt are selling the idea of a "mutual insurance pool" as an alternative incentive program to their proposed future delivery market for organs, which generated continent-wide interest and controversy more than a decade ago.

The major stumbling block of the earlier future market scheme, in which individuals could sell the rights to their organs, to be delivered at death, was its emphasis on monetary incentives.

The researchers, both public policy analysts in SFU's faculty of business administration, argue that an insurance pool would be more "politically feasible."

"The concept of mutual insurance is an old tradition," notes Vining. "It has a long and respected lineage, which should help to support the social and political acceptability of this idea."

According to the proposal, an individual would receive priority for a transplant upon agreeing that his or her organs will be available to other members of the insurance pool upon death.

In cases where there are multiple members of the pool waiting for the same organ type, pool "managers" would use an intrapool priority system, based on standard matching procedures.

"In an insurance pool, an individual's commitment to having his or her organs delivered at death is a form of insurance premium," explains Vining.

"The insurance benefit is the priority right to an organ if an individual falls into the recipient class," he adds. "It's equivalent to the benefit an insured person receives when claiming for property fire or flood damage. The premium, or 'price,' in this case is the com

Contact: Marianne Meadahl
Simon Fraser University

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