How Much Does a Liver Transplant Cost?
A liver transplant refers to a medical process recommended by physicians to those who show substantial chances of passing away within one to three years if their organ is not treated in time. We are all born with functional livers, but lengthy sustained injuries can result in decreased function and a total shutdown. The most common causes of this disease are alcoholism and hepatitis C. Patients are usually considered for surgery when their organ is functioning at 10-20% below normal. Moreover, some patients may occasionally be referred to the emergency theater for ‘mild liver failure’; this serious condition causes the organ to abruptly stop working and may cause death within 1-2 weeks if not addressed soon. A liver transplant is one of the most expensive medical procedures you can have done, but the no price can be put on a saved life.
How much is it?
- According to recent estimates from the U.S. health care bureau, the average cost of a successful liver transplant stands at $519,600. However, only 2/3 of Americans can afford this figure while the rest have insufficient covers. Insurance companies have different policies when it comes to medical cover for liver transplant; some will not cover health assessments conducted at various transplant centers but rather expect patients to use only one hospital for the entire treatment process. During evaluation, a committee of surgeons would meet to determine the urgency of treatment based on each patient’s medical history.
- Even if the health insurance covers it, you will be responsible for deductibles and co-pays if it is part of your policy.
- Transplantliving.org claims that the average liver transplant will cost $577,100 for the entire procedure.
- According to VA.gov, the average costs can be between $150,000 to $250,000 for the hospital stay. Following the surgery, the medication alone can cost upwards of $12,000 per year.
What is going to be included?
- In most cases, livers are donated from people who have died from other reasons other than failure of the organ. The donor often writes a will that if he/she passes away his liver can be used to assist the recipient. Before this organ is given to a patient, doctors need to ensure it matches with his blood type and body size.
- A liver transplant will replace a sick liver. Most of the time, this liver will be donated by someone who has recently died. When a donor dies, the liver will be removed and sent to the recipient as soon as possible.
- A transplant is commonly needed for those who have chronic hepatitis B/C, bile duct disease, cancer, fatter liver disease, or an alcoholic liver.
What are the extra costs?
- The additional costs to consider are nursing and after-care medical consultation services since immediately after surgery you would need to take proper care of the delicate organ. Most patients visit doctors to determine the progress of their healing, while some people also consult with nutritionists to know the best meals that can be taken for speeding up the healing process.
- Additional fees can include food, lodging, transportation, plane travel and lost wages if your employer does not cover it.
- Each hospital will have its own billing policy. Anesthesia, lab tests, organ recovery, surgery and operating room fees may be separate.
- After the surgery is complete, a variety of drugs must be taken to sustain the transplant. By the year, plan on spending around $8,000 to $15,000. If an infection is present, the costs can double.
Tips to know:
- Livers are quite a scarce commodity. Each year only 1/3 of those featured on the state’s waiting list are lucky enough to receive one. Moreover, nobody is allowed to sell or buy this organ in U.S. since it’s considered illegal. There are about 127 health care centers in America registered to perform liver exchanges.
- If a patient lives more than 50 miles away from a hospital, he must stay in a hospital for 30 days after discharge.
- Over 6,500 transplants are done in the United States per year. The average age is 50-64.
- The survival rate after 5 years is 74.3%.
- The average waiting time depends on the blood type, body size, disease and overall health.
- If the liver is diseased because of alcoholism, it will usually be very hard to get a liver transplant.
How can I save money?
- The best way to save on liver transplant cost is organizing a family and friends’ funds drive for covering the medical bills. There are many fundraisers that you can do to help pay for the surgery, and you will find that there are many generous people in your community that are willing to help.
- Always discuss your options with your insurance provider to see what is going to be covered. If you are looking for a new policy or want to switch, consider browsing through policies on eHealthInsurance.com. Most of the time, private insurance companies will pay a large portion of the bill.