How Much Does A Liver Transplant Cost

Your liver performs important jobs to keep your body functioning. For instance, the food and drinks you consume are processed by the said organ into energy and nutrients. It also sifts substance that may harm you.

Since you are eating daily, your liver works the same. If you’re not conscious enough, your intake may take a toll into your organ. Such carelessness can cause damage, which, in the worst case scenario, is already irreversible.

doctors doing surgery

If you, or your patient, reaches that point, the only solution is transplantation. That said, how much does a liver transplant cost?

Average Cost Of Liver Transplant In US

How much does a liver transplant cost if you’re in the US? According to Medic Abroad, the procedure can total as much as $740,000. raises the average to $750,000. Furthermore, an article by News Press sets a higher price of as much as $1.5 million.

These figures show that the total price of the said transplantation in the country greatly varies.

Cost Factors

The wide-ranging cost of liver transplant in the US is due to several factors including:

  • Your location

Where you are in the US will affect the exact cost of the procedure. It is said that hospitals located in the southern region are more affordable than centers in the north.

It is also an option to have a liver transplant abroad. The cost of the procedure in India and other Asian countries are generally more affordable than at home.

  • Hospital expenses other than the procedure

Before the transplant itself, you or your patient will need to undergo several tests. Completing them is a requirement for you to make it on the transplant waiting list.

Some of the tests include a physical exam, psychological and social evaluation, diagnostic examinations, CT scan and ultrasound for assessment of liver and blood flow, blood tests, and screening for HIV, hepatitis, drug, and alcohol.

  • Hospital stay and medical surveillance

A liver transplant is not an outpatient procedure so you will have to spend some time in the hospital. Your stay and the medical surveillance that go with it will add up to the total cost.

  • Post-procedure expenses

Getting a liver transplant means you will face lifetime costs. These include follow-up tests, anti-rejection medication, rehabilitation, and physical therapy.

Note that the incurred costs of the liver transplant from pre to post-procedure don’t have to be shouldered by you alone. Your medical insurance, as well as fundraising groups, can help you with the expenses.

Transplant Cost Forecast

An article published in the National Library of Medicine offers an idea on how much you’ll be spending during and after a liver transplant. The figures cited by the researchers are only part of a cost forecast. Still, seeing the prediction of the expenses will help you understand the costs as well as prepare for it.

According to the 20-year cost modeling forecast (published 2015), the pre-liver transplant phase will cost about $49,000 to over $600,000 in Year 1. This will dramatically increase by Year 20, specifically around $71,000 to over $860,000.

The expenses for the treatment phase (the transplant itself) is forecasted to cost over $588,000 to more than $830,000 from Year 1 to Year 20. Lastly, the post-transplant costs would run from over $670,000 to a little less than $950,000.

If you add the phases together, the liver transplant cost for each patient will total to over $1.4 million in Year 1 and over $2.09 million in Year 20.

Two years after the forecast’s publication, we can now see that the Year 1 total is the price patients will most likely pay for the transplant today.

Cost Comparisons

You may prefer to fly abroad if you can’t afford the high cost of liver transplant in the US. Asia has the most affordable hospitals, hence the most popular destination. Some parts of Europe and North Africa can also be an option. Prices in these places, though, are only a bit lower than the US average.

The average costs based on a list by include:

  • India: $50,000 to $60,000
  • Jordan: Around $60,000
  • Egypt: $50,000
  • Turkey: $100,000
  • Germany: $250,000 to $300,000
  • United Kingdom: $150,000
  • Mexico: $250,000 to $300,000
  • Singapore: $500,000 to $1 million

You might have noticed that Singapore, despite being in Asia, charges high for the procedure. It might have something to do with the nation’s popularity as a liver transplant destination, its high supply of donors, and the non-existence of waiting lists in the country.

However, before you book a ticket to the said countries, remember that you’ll not be spending for the procedure only. You also have to consider additional expenses including transportation, hospitalization, and follow-up care, among others.

Insurance Coverage

How much does a liver transplant cost if we take your insurance into consideration? Well, your health insurance may cover part of the expenses.

For instance, Medicare covers the hospital insurance for a liver transplant so long as you’re admitted to a certified facility. Their coverage includes:

  • Tests and exams before surgery
  • Transplant drugs
  • Follow-up care
  • Procurement of organs

According to Medicare’s website, you won’t have to pay for Medicare-certified laboratory tests. But you need to shoulder 20% of the approved amount as payment for the doctor’s services.

Making The Most Out Of Your Insurance

Your insurance may just cover part of the total liver transplant cost, but that’s more than enough to save a life. Still, you have to make the most out of your plan so you won’t have to spend a fortune.

To do that, you should contact your insurance company first. Ask everything about their requirements so you or your patient will be eligible for coverage.

You should also clarify any matter regarding copays, deductibles, and caps on costs, as these can affect how much the insurance company will pay.

Also, secure your copies of medical bills, insurance forms, and proofs of payment as your company may ask for them.

Another thing to remember is to inform your health care provider about your coverage. This is a necessity especially if you have more than one insurance company. Your company and the hospital should establish a line of communication so you won’t have to end up paying for something you’re not supposed to.

Other Tips

Aside from depending on insurance, a lot of Americans turn to fundraising to be able to cover the costs. A patient’s relatives, friends, and acquaintances may also chip in to raise money.

Liver transplant is a costly procedure, but it did save and is saving lives of many Americans. That said, make sure you have an efficient insurance plan and enough savings for such medical emergencies.

Still, the best way to save money is to avoid damaging your liver to the point that you’ll need a transplant. Stay healthy!

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