Treating end-stage heart failure is a considerable expense no matter what the treatment. Currently, first-year treatment of VAD-supported patients is comparable in cost to that of heart transplant patients.
Following the initial operation, costs for VAD-supported patients typically drop relative to those of transplant patients, who require high-priced pharmaceutical support for the transplanted heart. When VADs capable of long-term support — like the Jarvik 2000 FlowMakerŽ (which is now used under investigational FDA approval) — gain full FDA approval, Medicare and other health insurance providers are likely to cover the costs of the treatment, making VADs viable as a practical alternative to transplantation. The HeartMate is an example of this. As the only device to have received full FDA approval for permanent use in transplant ineligible patients, it is paid for by Medicare and many insurance companies. Presently, Medicare and many insurance companies also pay for the Jarvik 2000 as a bridge to transplant. The Jarvik 2000 is not yet available for lifetime use in the U.S., but is available in Europe.