“How Much Do Heart Valve Replacements Cost?” Asks Mike
By Adam Pick on September 20, 2010
I just received a great email from Mike about heart valve replacements. Mike writes, “Adam – I’ve got a severely leaky valve and need mitral surgery. I’m 55 and never knew about my prolapsed valve. Just curious… If the surgeon can’t repair my leaflets, how much do the replacement devices cost? Thanks, Mike”
Like Mike, I had this same question when I was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. I wanted to know just how much this little medical device cost.
As you might imagine, obtaining pricing data on heart valve replacement devices is a bit difficult. You can’t just run down to your local Wal-Mart and order an ATS Open Pivot Valve. And, you definitely can’t purchase a Medtronic Freestyle pig valve from Amazon.com.
However, I can share some anecdotal pricing information that I’ve collected over the years:
- A cardiac sales representative told me, “Most mechanical and tissue valves go for about $5,000.”
- A cardiac surgeon wrote me, “The interesting thing is that there is a list price for valves and then there are hospital specific prices. The cost of a typical heart valve replacement can differ by several thousand dollars. The range, however, is from $5,000 to $7,000 for a typical valve.”
- Another surgeon told me, “I can not provide specifics but heart valve replacements range from $2,000 to $10,000.”
- Financial reports indicate that new transcatheter solutions, like the Edwards’ Sapien valve replacement, can cost over $25,000.
On one hand, you might react to those numbers with this thought, “Holy Moly! That’s a lot of money!” On the other hand, you might think, “That’s it! To keep me alive for another 10, 20 or 30 years… That’s nothing!” (Personally, the latter thought rushed through my brain as I digested these numbers.)
Regardless of how you view the cost of heart valve replacement devices, we should probably remember that mechanical and bioprosthetic devices fall into the life sciences product category. The leading valve manufacturers — Edwards, Medtronic, ATS, St. Jude — have to extend millions, or even billions, of dollars on research and development (R&D) before they make one penny on a product sale. That said, pricing usually starts high as R&D costs are recouped. Then, over time, pricing decreases – just like the computer in front of you. Remember when a laptop computer was $4,000?
As you can tell, I’m not a heart valve pricing guru. I have no idea where valves fall on the long-run pricing curve. But, I hope this information helps Mike (and perhaps you) learn more about the price of heart valve replacement devices.
Keep on tickin!