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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > General Surgery & Neurosurgery > Liver Transplant

Liver Transplant Cost


How Much Does a Liver Transplant Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: Copays + 10%-50% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $100,000-$575,000+

A liver transplant is done to treat liver failure, which can have many causes, including chronic hepatitis B or C, fatty liver disease, alcoholism, and autoimmune liver disease. A donated liver can come from a living donor, who gets part of his or her liver removed, or a deceased donor.

Typical costs:

  • For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs for a liver transplant typically consist of doctor visit, lab and prescription drug copays as well as coinsurance of 10%-50% for surgery and other procedures, which can easily reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum. Health insurance will typically cover a liver transplant.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, a liver transplant typically costs up to $575,000 or more for the procedure, including follow-up care and medications for the first six months after the procedure.
  • According to Vimo.com, a health care cost comparison website, the average list price for a liver transplant is about $330,000, while the average negotiated price, through an insurance company, is $100,400.
  • According to the California Pacific Medical Center, the drugs needed long-term[1] , which could include the anti-rejection drug Prograf as well as prednisone, can cost more than $3,000 per month.
  • According to TransplantLiving.org, total costs for a kidney transplant[2] from the month before the transplant through the six months of anti-rejection drugs typically reach more than $575,000, including more than $20,000 for the medications. These costs include pre-surgery medical tests, surgery, hospitalizations for complications, follow-up care and anti-rejection and other drugs.
  • Commonly prescribed anti-rejection drugs which are used for life, include tacrolimus (brand name Prograf), mycophenolate mofetil (brand name CellCept), and prednisone. At DrugsDepot.com, a one-month supply of the brand-name Prograf can cost about $400-$2,000, depending on the dose. And, at DrugsDepot.com, a one-month supply of generic tacrolimus costs about $150-$900, depending on the dose. At DrugsDepot.com, a one-month supply of the brand name CellCept costs more than $1,000. At DrugsDepot.com, a one-month supply of generic mycophenolate mofetil costs less than $30. And Prednisone[3] usually costs about $10 a month.
Related articles: Biopsy, Abdominal Ultrasound, Hepatitis Vaccine, Liver Cancer Treatment, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • If a transplant might be needed, a screening is conducted at a transplant center to determine whether the patient is a candidate for transplant. Then, if a living donor is being used, tests will be conducted to ensure compatibility. If not, the patient will have to sign up on an organ donor waiting list. Waiting time is determined in part by the patient's score on the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease[4] , which determined which patients have the most urgent need.Organdonor.gov offers a step-by-step guide transplant process[5] .
  • During the operation, the patient is placed under general anesthesia, and the surgeon removes the patient's live and places the donor liver in the body, connecting veins, arteries and the bile duct. The patient typically stays in the hospital for a week or longer.
Additional costs:
  • The patient will need to take anti-rejection drugs for life. According to the California Pacific Medical Center, the drugs needed long-term[6] , which could include the anti-rejection drug Prograf as well as prednisone, can cost more than $3,000 per month, or $36,000 a year. These drugs typically are covered by insurance.
  • Liver transplant complications can cost tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the complication. For example, a study[7] in the Journal of the American College of Surgery found that post-surgical complications such as pneumonia could add $80,000 or more to hospitalization cost.
  • If a transplanted liver begins to fail, it is sometimes possible for the patient to live long enough to get a second transplant. Studies[8] show that about 32% of livers from deceased donors fail within five years, and about 46% within 10 years.
Discounts:
  • Most transplant centers have a financial counselor who will help the patient find ways to pay for the procedure.
  • Many hospitals give discounts of up to 30% or more to uninsured or cash-paying patients.
  • HelpHOPELive helps patients conduct community fundraising campaigns[9] to help pay for transplants, but the organization takes a fee of 4$-7%.
Shopping for a liver transplant:
  • The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients offers a transplant center locator[10] .
  • The National Kidney Center offers a guide to choosing a transplant center[11] .
  • The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse offers a detailed guide to the liver transplant process[12] .
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.cpmc.org/advanced/liver/patients/topics/finance.html
  2.  www.transplantliving.org/before-the-transplant/financing-a-transplant/the-costs/
  3.  www.drugsdepot.com/catalog.php
  4.  www.mayoclinic.org/meld/
  5.  www.organdonor.gov/about/transplantationprocess.html
  6.  www.cpmc.org/advanced/liver/patients/topics/finance.html
  7.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18155573
  8.  www.ustransplant.org/annual_reports/current/908a_li.pdf
  9.  www.helphopelive.org/about/faqs.cfm#37DB3F76-123F-73FE-8942ECFEA9D84F23
  10.  www.srtr.org/csr/current/Centers/Default.aspx
  11.  www.nationalkidneycenter.org/treatment-options/transplant/find-a-transplant-center/
  12.  digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/livertransplant/#5
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