How Much Does a LVAD Cost?
An LVAD, also known as a Left Ventricular Assist Device, is a mechanical pump that helps patients who suffer from advanced heart failure and is in need of a heart transplant. This pump will work to move the oxygen-rich blood through the body since the heart is unable to do so.
While this isn’t a permanent solution, it is used to “bridge” the gap while a patient waits for a heart transplant. If the patient is not eligible for a heart transplant, an LVAD can prolong their life. In fact, the LVAD has shown to double the one-year survival rate for people in this stage of heart disease.
How much does it cost?
- The LVAD device itself is going to be around $60,000 to $80,000, and the surgery fees can be as high as $150,000 or more. These are the prices for those who don’t have a health insurance policy. The costs will depend on the geographical location, the hospital, surgeon, diagnosis, health condition and complexity of the surgery.
- According to the Wall Street Journal, the device is going to hover around $80,000.
- According to repository.upenn.edu, the first year cost of the LVAD implantation is around $220,000, which includes the $141,000 for the initial implant related hospitalization and $67,000 for the device.
What is going to be included?
- According to the NIH, LVADs have become the dominant devices for mechanical circulatory support. As of 2013, the device is marketed by Thoratec Corporation.
- However, the cost effectiveness associated with LVADs for destination therapy has improved significantly relative to pulsatile flow devices. This is because of significant improvements in survival and functional status and reduction in implantation costs.
- The basis of determining the cost of LVADs include the following: ratio of cost-to-charges method to calculate hospital costs per resource category, market prices for drugs and device, and payments for physician services.
- Instead of creating a pulse for the patient, the LVAD will create a continuous flow, making it hard to detect the patient’s heartbeat.
- Patients that have an LVAD installed will wear a vest that will hold two battery packs. These packs will have to be recharged at least every four hours. A controller will be worn around the waist and will be connected to the LVAD, and most people will also carry a reserve battery in case they are unable to get to a charger.
- According to WebMD, “Like the heart, the LVAD is a pump. One end hooks up to the left ventricle — that’s the chamber of the heart that pumps blood out of the lungs and into the body. The other end hooks up to the aorta, the body’s main artery. A tube passes from the device through the skin. The outside of the tube is covered with a special material to aid in healing and allow the skin to regrow.”
What are the extra costs?
- Extra costs may be incurred for additional treatments or procedures required by the doctor for the patient.
- In case of complications after the LVAD implantation, you might be spending extra money for medications or treatments to address the problem associated with it.
Tips to know
- According to a survey, those who had a LVAD installed had a survival rate of more than 58% after two years.
- To find a coordinator or hospital that can work with you, visit MyLVAD.com.
- Get a second opinion from another doctor before deciding to have an LVAD implantation done. This way, you will be able to assess its advantages and disadvantages as well as know the risks involved.
- Advantages: LVAD can relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue. It gives the heart a chance to rest when it becomes tired.
- Disadvantages: Because having an LVAD implanted requires open heart surgery, there are many risks involved in the procedure. These can include infection, internal bleeding, and heart failure (if the heart relies too much on the machine). There is also the risk that the machine could malfunction or the battery could run out.
How can I save money?
- Be sure to check with medicare and your private health insurance provider to see if the procedure is going to be covered. If you cannot afford the payments, consider talking with a financial counselor with the hospital to see if you can get on a payment plan.
- Get your LVAD from a reputable source and get the services of an experienced doctor to minimize additional costs in case of complications or problems.
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