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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Medical Equipment and Orthopedics > Prosthetic Arm

Prosthetic Arm Cost


How Much Does a Prosthetic Arm Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: Copays + 10%-50% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $5,000-$100,000+
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A prosthetic arm, which can be cosmetic or functional, can be used when a patient has part or all of an arm amputated, usually due to an injury or other trauma.

Typical costs:

  • For patients with health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of doctor visit copays and coinsurance of 10%-50%. All types of prosthetic arms typically are covered by health insurance. However, coverage for certain types of prosthetics typically depends on the amputation level and the patient's physical condition. For example, according to the BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi upper limb prosthesis policy[1] , a myoelectric, or computer-controlled limb would be covered only when certain conditions are met. For example, the limb must be amputated at the wrist or above, the patient must have an activity level and specific needs that require the use of this type of prosthetic to perform daily activities. A body-powered prosthesis, controlled by body movements, would be covered for an individual for whom this prosthesis would be adequate to allow them to perform their daily activities, or an individual who does not meet the requirements for a myoelectric prosthesis.
  • For patients without health insurance, a prosthetic arm typically costs less than $5,000 for a purely cosmetic arm, up to $10,000 for a functional prosthetic arm that ends in a split hook, and up to $20,000-$100,000 or more for an advanced myoelectric arm, controlled by muscle movements, with a functioning artificial hand.
  • For example, according to a white paper[2] from the Bioengineering Institute Center for Neuroprosthetics, at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the cost of a prosthetic arm varies by the type of arm and the level of amputation. For example, a cosmetic arm and hand might cost $3,000-$5,000. A functional prosthetic arm with a "split hook" at the end might cost $10,000. A myoelectric prosthetic arm with a realistic-looking, functioning hand might cost $20,000- $30,000 or more.
  • According to a Department of Veterans Affairs study[3] , average cost of a myoelectric prosthetic arm depended partly on the level of limb loss. A myoelectric prosthetic for partial loss of a hand cost $18,703; up to the middle of the lower arm, $20,329; up to the middle of the upper arm, $59,664 and up to the shoulder, $61,655. At the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center, a very advanced myoelectric prosthetic arm[4] costs about $100,000.
  • Thought-controlled arms that are surgically implanted and attached to nerves are not widely available and are very expensive. For example, a man who lost both arms due to electrical shock received experimental thought-controlled arms at a cost of $6 million.
  • A prosthetic arm likely will have to be replaced several times during the patient's lifetime. A study[5] by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimated the average lifetime cost for prosthetics and medical care for loss of a single arm for a veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to be $823,299.
Related articles: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • A few weeks or months after amputation surgery, the patient meets with a prosthetist, a health professional who specializes in evaluating and fitting patients with prostheses. The prosthetist takes measurements of the patient and create a cast of the stump so a temporary prosthesis can be created, to be used until the stump finishes healing and changing in size due to muscle atrophy.
  • When the stump size has become stable, the patient will meet with the prosthetist again. The prosthetist will take another cast of the stump, and the permanent prosthetic arm will be created. LimbSpecialists.com offers a step-by-step guide[6] to getting an artificial limb.
Additional costs:
  • Most patients require physical and occupational therapy, which helps them learn how to perform daily tasks at home or work. Physical therapy typically costs $50-$350 per session, and occupational therapy can cost $50-$400 per session. Total costs for therapy can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The Amputee Coalition offers a guide to physical and occupational therapy[7] for amputees.
Discounts:
  • Various non-profit organizations provide financial help or free prosthetic limbs for patients in need. The Amputee Coalition offers a list of financial resources and non-profit organizations[8] that help patients who need a prosthetic limb.
Shopping for a prosthetic arm:
  • OandPCare.org offers a prosthetist locator[9] . A patient should be evaluated and fitted for a prosthetic arm by a prosthetist who is certified by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics[10] or the Board for Orthotist/Prosthetist Certification[11] .
  • The Amputee Coalition offers tips on choosing a prosthetist[12] .
  • MedScape offers a guide to choosing a prosthetic arm[13] .
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  www.bcbsms.com/index.php?q=provider-medical-policy-search.html&action=viewPolicy&path=%...
  2.  www.nist.gov/tip/wp/pswp/upload/239_limb_prosthetics_services_devices.pdf
  3.  www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/10/474/Blough.html
  4.  www.ucsfhealth.org/newsletters/orthopaedic_surgery_news/winter_2006/myoelectric/
  5.  www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/10/474/Blough.html
  6.  limbspecialists.azamputee.com/new-amputee.html
  7.  www.amputee-coalition.org/military-instep/reclaiming-independence.html
  8.  www.amputee-coalition.org/fact_sheets/assist_orgs.html
  9.  www.oandpcare.org/Search
  10.  www.abcop.org/certification/OrthotistsProsthetists/Pages/Default.aspx
  11.  www.bocusa.org/becoming-certified
  12.  www.amputee-coalition.org/first_step_2003/choosing-a-prosthetist.html
  13.  emedicine.medscape.com/article/317234-overview#aw2aab6b2
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