A pacemaker – sometimes known as a cardiac pacing device – is a small machine given to patients who have suffered problems with their heart. These problems generally stem from the fact that their heart either beats too slowly or too quickly, and the pacemaker itself acts as a regulator for the heart.
Although there are a range of factors which can contribute to the cost of a pacemaker, it is worth also knowing that there are a number of pros and cons which are associated with having a pacemaker fitted.
The primary purpose of this article is to discuss the cost of a pacemaker, and the factors that can contribute to its overall cost.
How Much Is a Pacemaker?
Pacemakers vary greatly in cost, depending on a number of factors which will be discussed in further detail below. Generally speaking, they are under $15,000. Prices can vary, though, and you could end up paying under $10,000 in some circumstances or on occasions even over $20,000.
This cost is based on if you’ve got health insurance or some form of medical insurance. The alternative price can be up to $100,000 if you’re uninsured but still need a pacemaker fitted.
Factors that Affect The Cost of a Pacemaker
- Tests and Consultations
A significant factor which can incur a cost is if you’re required to undertake any preoperative tests or need to consult a physician or specialist before you under the procedure.
Typically, these tests can include anything from a chest x-ray, to blood tests or even an electrocardiogram (EGK).
In addition, you may also be required to meet with a specialist cardiologist. The reason for this is so that they can discuss the procedure with you, and also go through any potential complications or risks which may emerge as a result of the procedure.
Remember, their job is not to scare you – it is to inform you so that you can have as much information as possible before you commit to the procedure.
These two external factors can contribute to the cost of a pacemaker, because on top of the actual surgery, you will also have to pay for these pre-surgery procedures, including the cost of the x-ray (for instance) and the consultation with a specialist cardiologist.
- Location of the Medical Facility
The location of the hospital can affect the cost of a pacemaker. This is because the higher the cost of living is in a particular area, the higher the cost of the procedure is going to be.
As an example, the procedure would cost more in California and New York than it would in Georgia or South Carolina.
Additionally, those areas which are more highly urbanized are likely to have higher fees than more rural areas. If you live in a particularly affluent, urban area and wish to save some money on the cost of a pacemaker, it could potentially be worth your time traveling to another state or area of the country where the cost is going to be much cheaper.
- Anesthetic Costs
As you will already know, anesthetic is completely necessary when having a pacemaker fitted.
However, this will also add to the overall cost of the procedure, so it is worth budgeting for this, too. General anesthetic is more expensive than local anesthetic because it puts you to sleep for the duration of the procedure, so it is much stronger and therefore costs more to use.
- Location Fees
What do we mean by location fees? We don’t necessarily mean the fees associated with geographic locations which we discussed above, but rather where you’re having the procedure performed.
For instance, are you going into a hospital for the operation, or will you be visiting a medical outpatient center instead?
If you’re going to a hospital, you can expect to pay much more – this is because you will require the use of an operating theater (in some cases, medical students may also be watching from an auditorium, but you will be consulted about this beforehand if this is the case).
If you’re going to have the procedure performed at an outpatient center, of course you will not need to pay for the use of an operating theater, but you will also not need to pay for a hospital bed for the night – this alone can cost you almost $15,000.
In order to save money on the cost of a pacemaker, it is recommended that you go to a medical outpatient center rather than a hospital, if the option is available.
- Post-Surgery Costs
Just like you may need to attend preoperative tests and consultations, you may also be required to attend some post-surgical appointments.
These are nothing to be afraid or apprehensive about. On the contrary, they tend to help patients with peace of mind: knowing that your pacemaker is working properly by being assessed by a specialist doctor such as a cardiologist or heart surgeon can only be a good thing. And if something’s wrong with your pacemaker, then who better to be in the care of when you find out that news?
Although these consultations can incur another cost, they are highly recommended to be undertaken.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Pacemaker
If there are any reasons to have a pacemaker fitted, the best one is because it can save your life! Even if you are not convinced that it is worth the cost, the fact that it can prolong your life and help you out on a daily basis is generally deemed worthy enough of its overall expense.
- Heart Function
A better heart function is one of the biggest advantages of having a pacemaker fitted – and it’s usually the primary reason for having one fitted in the first place. They regulate your heartbeat, ensuring that you can live normally, without the fear of serious consequences if you overexert yourself.
- Long Lasting
Pacemakers have a low maintenance cost, because they are designed to last for a long time, so you do not need to spend very much on repairs.
- Short Recovery Time
Compared to alternative medical procedures, the recovery period after having a pacemaker fitted is relatively short. It is simply recommended that you avoid any strenuous exercise or activities for up to a month after it has been fitted.
Like with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with having a pacemaker fitted. Although rare, there are still risks which can arise, such as developing an infection (although this is down to the extremely rare case of medical equipment not being sterilized properly). You could also experience bleeding, or damage to your heart and blood vessels if the procedure is not carried out properly.
This article has explored the cost of a pacemaker, but for some people the total cost is simply an unfeasible amount of money to pay, sadly, because a pacemaker is a life-saving device.
On the occasions when pacemakers do need repairing, the cost can sometimes be quite high, as the repairs are usually serious and absolutely necessary.
- Changes in Your Lifestyle
Although they can change your life for the better, you will still need to implement certain changes once you have a pacemaker fitted. These include avoiding activities that are likely to raise your heart rate significantly (such as sprinting). You may also be ineligible for future medical procedures because of the pacemaker.
Financing Options and Advice
There are a range of financing options and alternative payment options available, which we have listed below.
- Speak With Your Healthcare and Insurance Provider
Speaking with your healthcare provider about which type of pacemaker will suit your needs best, as well as discussing all the other available types available is the best place to start.
Also speaking to your insurance provider is another way to potentially save money on the cost of a pacemaker. You can also see how much of the procedure they will cover, and what any of your additional expenses might be.
- Sources of Funding
If your insurance provider does not cover as much of the cost as you thought, you can always look into alternative sources of funding.
One such example is a financial grant or a loan. There are various charities and organizations which can provide financial assistance to individuals who need medical devices (pacemakers included) but cannot necessarily afford them. Such organisations can help to cover a portion – or sometimes all – of the total cost of the pacemaker.
But What If I Don’t Have Insurance?
Despite what you might think, there are still alternative financial methods available which can contribute to the cost of a pacemaker.
Payment plans such as being able to pay off a little of the amount every single month can help people greatly when it comes to having a pacemaker fitted. In addition, it means that people don’t have to take on second or third jobs or remortgage their properties and sell all of their belongings simply to pay off the cost of the operation.
These payment plans also mean that you personally don’t take such a huge financial hit when it comes to the operation – it can simply go down as another monthly expense, like a rent or mortgage payment, or a car payment, for instance. These often have low interest rates when provided by a medical center, in comparison to using a credit card or a bank loan.
If you do choose to use a credit card (or credit cards) or take out a loan from your bank, it is advisable that you are very careful while doing so. This is because loans and credit cards often have huge interest rates. If you cannot keep up with the repayments, you could incur huge amounts of personal debt and potentially even end up bankrupt.
The cost of a pacemaker is undoubtedly a huge financial expense, but at the end of the day, it’s an operation that will help to prolong your life and save you in the long term.
While the short term financial burden may be a big hit to take, the long term benefits of having a pacemaker fitted outweigh this – think of the precious time that you now have to be able to spend with your children or grandchildren, or simply to just enjoy your senior years without the worry of your heart giving in at any moment.
Realistically, the benefits of a pacemaker outweigh the negatives, and it can transform your life for the better, leaving you with a better overall quality of life.