Do you think the proverbial phrase “my heart skips a beat” is just invented to exaggerate a feeling, especially when professing love? If you do, think again.
Irregular heartbeat, known in the medical world as atrial fibrillation or flutter is an actual phenomenon or one of the conditions of the heart and not just a product of the imagination of a clever writer or an overacting and overly romantic admirer.
Heart flutters can be a serious problem especially the risks it involves such as the formation of blood clots causing a heart attack or stroke.
One of the treatments could be cardioversion or bringing back the normal rhythm of the heart that can be done through electric shocks to the heart or administering drugs through your veins. Or your cardiologist might recommend a pacemaker, especially if the flutters keep on coming back.
A pacemaker is an electrical device that regulates the heartbeat once implanted. It is usually required for patients with irregular heartbeats as a precaution and patients with damaged heart muscles due to a heart attack. The implantation procedure is performed under a local anesthesia and the patients are usually discharged after a day or two from the hospital.
How much does a pacemaker cost? You would be surprised to see the price ranges for this seemingly simple procedure.
Average Cost of Pacemaker
According to Healthcare Bluebook, the fair price of a pacemaker insertion is $ $26,128.
According to them, the fair price is the cost that you should reasonably expect to pay for a medical service. They calculated it based on actual cost paid by various health plans on claims.
Hospitals in Alabama have reported a price range of $30,000 to $120,000 for permanent pacemaker implants.
The average cost of pacemaker implants with no complications across all US states are the following:
- Alabama $54,564
- Alaska $55,814
- Arizona $61,790
- Arkansas $47,954
- California $78,140
- Colorado $61,976
- Connecticut $44,876
- Delaware $40,348
- D.C. $44,150
- Florida $63,051
- Georgia $44,360
- Hawaii $37,226
- Idaho $39,737
- Illinois $55,735
- Indiana $45,748
- Iowa $40664
- Kansas $46,289
- Kentucky $46,223
- Louisiana $49,690
- Maine $39,304
- Maryland $20,753
- Massachusetts $38,334
- Michigan $42,230
- Minnesota $46,198
- Mississippi $43,866
- Missouri $46,492
- Montana $38,425
- Nebraska $41,172
- Nevada $82,024
- New Hampshire $37,725
- New Jersey $79,303
- New Mexico $48,706
- New York $46,981
- North Carolina $44,272
- North Dakota $30,911
- Ohio $45,808
- Oklahoma $52,407
- Oregon $36,115
- Pennsylvania $60,306
- Rhode Island $52,739
- South Carolina $55,331
- South Dakota $33,076
- Tennessee $51,791
- Texas $60,525
- Utah $37,855
- Vermont $36,826
- Virginia $48,134
- Washington $50,675
- West Virginia $32,657
- Wisconsin $41,210
- Wyoming $46,968
It would be interesting to note that only Maryland has the average cost that falls within the fair price and is actually way lower.
What are Included?
For the purposes of illustration, we will use the figures provided by the Healthcare Bluebook. Below are the compositions of the said pacemaker price:
- Hospital Services – Total price $23,919
This price includes the cost of the pacemaker device and the cost of the three-day admission.
- Physician Services – Total fee $1,291
This includes doctor’s fee for the performance of the procedure which is the placement or insertion of the pacemaker as well as post-operative care.
- Anesthesia – Total fee $918
This includes the average anesthesia that covers a surgery time of 1 hour and 45 minutes.
After the procedure, it is a must that your heart rhythm will be regularly monitored so expect some EKG test. Each test costs $400 to $500.
Your doctor may also be concerned about how your lungs function so he or she may require a chest X-ray. The doctor can also check in the film if the pacemaker was exactly where it should be. This costs around $200 to $400.
It is also common to experience discomfort or even pain within a few days after the procedure so your physician would likely be prescribing you pain relievers which may be purchased over-the-counter such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol), or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB).
One of the risk factors of the pacemaker implant is blood clots so it is likely that blood thinners may be included in the prescription such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin).
For complete recovery that may also include dealing with the psychological effects of the heart procedure, your doctor may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation which typically costs $150 to $300 per session.
Shopping for Pacemaker
If you are on the lookout for a hospital that performs pacemaker implantation and other heart-related procedures, Health.USNews.comoffers a free locator for some of the best cardiology clinics and hospitals in the country.
Factors Affecting Pacemaker Price
- Location – how much does a pacemaker cost largely depends on the state where the procedure is to be performed as cost of living and cost of doing business are mostly higher in some states than others.
- The hospital – even if hospitals are in the same state, the pacemaker price may still vary due to some factors like the equipment and facilities of some hospitals being more sophisticated than others.
- The type of pacemaker used – there are three types of pacemakers that your cardiologist may choose from. They are the single-chamber, dual-chamber, and biventricular pacemakers.
- The doctor – the doctors’ fee would most likely be affected by their level of expertise and experience in the field.
- Insurance – whether or not you have insurance coverage would spell the difference in the net cost you have to pay for your hospital bills. Be sure to talk to your insurance providers if you have because most of the argument in whether to cover or not is the determination of whether a case is a pre-existing or not.
- Cash payments – some hospitals provide a discount ranging from 10% to 35% across all medical procedures for uninsured patients.
Aside from atrial fibrillation, other conditions may require pacemaker implants such as sick sinus syndrome, bradycardia, and heart block.
Potential risks of pacemaker implants besides blood clots are heart infection such as endocarditis and pericarditis, and pacemaker malfunction so it is important to attend regular follow-up checkups after the procedure.
The patient is usually given a card that shows the make and model of the implanted pacemaker before they are discharged from the hospital. This should be brought by the patients anywhere they go.