How Much Does a Heart Transplant Cost?
A heart transplant is a highly specialized procedure typically performed on a patient suffering from severe heart conditions that cannot be treated with medications or other surgeries. These conditions include severe cases of angina, heart failure, heart defects, and life-threatening abnormal heartbeats. Heart transplants are also performed on patients with end-stage heart failure.
How much does it cost?
- According to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT), the average cost of a heart transplant and the associated first-year expenses is $1 million. The costs will vary for each patient, depending on factors like insurance coverage, the location of the transplant center, the specific health problem of the patient, and overall health condition.
- USA Today reports that a revolutionary artificial heart transplant has an expected cost of $190,000 to $220,000, which is on par with the cost of a traditional heart transplant.
What is going to be included?
- A heart transplant includes preliminary testing, surgery, and post-operative recovery. Specifically, the $1,000,000 average given above typically includes the following medical costs: pre-transplant evaluation and testing, surgery, fees for organ recovery, follow-up care and tests, professional fees (surgeons, physicians, radiologist and anesthesiologist), recurrent lab tests, hospital stay before and after the transplant, additional hospital stays for complications, anti-rejection and other drugs, and rehabilitation (physical, occupational and vocational) as well as insurance deductibles, and insurance co-pays. Non-medical costs often include food and lodging, long distance phone calls, transportation to and from the transplant center, child care, and lost wages.
- Unfortunately, with any medical procedure, there are always possible negative side effects. With a heart transplant, these can include infection; blood clots; bleeding during or after the surgery, which can cause the need for infusions; breathing problems; resulting from the open chest cavity; kidney failure due to working so hard to clean out your system; and coronary arteriopathy.
What are the extra costs?
- According to the NFT, heart transplant patients typically incur lifetime medical expenses for follow-up care and instructions. Costs for anti-rejection and other drugs can easily exceed $2,500 a month.
- Follow-up care can cost over $21,000 a year, but may be higher or lower depending on the cost of medication, cardiologist fees, required tests, the cost of treating complications, and the overall health of the patient.
- Travel, food and lodging may be additional expenses to keep in mind while traveling to a hospital.
- If plane travel is needed, this will have to be budgeted as well.
- Do not forget lost wages if your employer does not pay for time away.
Tips to know:
- Most transplant programs have social workers and financial coordinators who can provide assistance to patients and their families to help them deal with the financial aspect of a heart transplant.
- Speak with your financial coordinator before making any decisions. Financial coordinators can assist you in understanding how your insurance company’s benefits can be applied to the heart transplant procedure. They can create a financial plan for the payment of the transplant and for the non-medical costs. They can also assist in finding additional sources of funding when needed.
- Patients commonly depend on sources to help with payments for medical and non-medical costs related to pre- and post-transplantation. Common funding sources include insurance policies, Medicare and Medicaid, fundraising campaigns, prescription drug assistance programs, extending insurance coverage through COBRA or supplemental plans, CHAMPUS and TRICARE, and other sources of income.
- Patients who have undergone transplantation can seek assistance from these organizations: Social Security coverage for the disabled, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Federal Rehabilitation Act (FRA).
- According to OrganDonor.gov, the average weight time for a heart transplant is 113 days.
- Most of the time, your doctor will use a heart transplant as a last resort. Only after trying all other possible solutions will a heart transplant be considered.
How can I save money?
- Ask medical centers about free or low-cost hospitality houses provided for patients and their families.
- Find out if federal programs like Medicare or Medicaid can provide you with assistance. Ask them if they can help eligible people pay for transportation costs.
- The best way to save money on any health care is by staying as healthy as possible. Eating right and exercising on a regular basis can help keep your heart strong and healthy so you can avoid these health issues altogether.
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