Heart failure has become a major public health concern costing billions of dollars a year. Heart failure patients account for an increasing percentage of healthcare costs, and as the population ages, that trend is expected to continue. In 1998, Medicare beneficiaries received $3.6 billion for treatment of heart failure.*

Many of the available treatments for end-stage heart failure can be quite expensive and may require costly hospital stays. Although cost-effectiveness is hardly the only consideration for doctors and patients addressing end-stage CHF, it may be a principal one. When evaluating the costs of a given course of treatment, patients and doctors should consider:

  • Drug costs
  • Surgical and other professional costs
  • Device costs
  • Transplant costs
  • Hospital stays
  • Follow-up costs

Not surprisingly, the magnitude of these costs will depend upon the particular needs of the patient. Also, many patients will be inclined to assess treatment costs on the basis of their medical insurance coverage. Still, all patients should understand that higher-cost treatment options are not necessarily more effective: A given patient needs to target the most sustainable care and the best quality of life — preferably outside the hospital.


*Health Care Financing Review, Statistical Supplement [2000], CMS.