11 Ways an Unhealthy Heart Can Cost You Money

man having heart problem


Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
man having heart problem

Serious as a Heart Attack

Taking care of your heart isn't just the right thing to do for your health, it's the right thing to do for your wallet; living with untreated heart problems can cost a lot of money. "Americans suffer 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes each year — a burden that contributes to most of the more than $320 billion in annual health care costs and lost productivity caused by cardiovascular disease," says Barbara Bowman, former director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Find out some of the ways untreated or unmanaged heart disease can hurt you financially as well as physically.

Related: 15 Weird Ways Your Body Is Telling You to Go to the Doctor

doctor checking patient in hospital

Direct Medical Costs

Some 127 million Americans had some form of cardiovascular disease between 2015 and 2018, according to the American Heart Association, with direct costs of $216 billion — and a cost in lives of 868,662 in just a single year. Cardiovascular disease and stroke accounted for 13% of total health expenditures in 2014-2015, more than any other diagnostic group. The problem isn't getting better, either. The total direct medical costs of cardiovascular disease are expected to increase to a whopping $749 billion by 2035, according to a 2016 study. 

Related: 15 Countries Where Americans Can Save Big on Medical Care

Medication Costs

Medication Costs

Heart disease also means spending money on prescription medicine. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report found that among adults with heart disease expenses, 75% reported prescription drug expenses related to that condition, for a total of about $8.5 billion. The research found that average annual prescription drug expenditures on heart disease per adult were $381.

Related: 10 Tips for Saving Money on Prescription Drugs

man lying in bed sick

Unscheduled Days Off

People living with untreated heart disease can suffer from any number of symptoms that can keep them off work, and that also costs money. According to a the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for civilian workers in the United States for December 2019 was $28.32 per hour. So for each eight-hour day of work missed beyond the days allotted for sick leave and paid time off, that was $226.56 daily. Even if an employee misses only five days a week yearly (over and above allotted sick days or paid time off), it could cost more them more than $1,130 annually in lost wages.

Related: 10 International Work Benefits Americans Wish They Had

doctor visit
FG Trade/istockphoto

Doctor Visits

Even with insurance, and if a heart patient can get an appointment and will risk it during a pandemic, it will cost an average of $49 to visit a doctor — and substantially more if they aren't insured, according to research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The research was based on a 10-state telephone survey in which callers posed as patients to find out whether they could get a new-patient appointment with a primary care doctor. The average price of a new uninsured patient appointment was quoted as $160, with some variation among states (a low of $128 in Pennsylvania and a high of $188 in Oregon).

Related: 14 Telemedicine Services for Health Care at Home During the Pandemic

Health Insurance Costs
Valeri Potapova/shutterstock

Health Insurance Costs

The cost of health insurance for those suffering with chronic heart conditions and other diseases is protected by the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which says that insurance companies may not deny coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or charge higher premiums because of their health status. While the Biden administration plans to strengthen the law, patients may fall within a bracket where the costs are uncomfortable.

Related: Reduce Your Health Care Costs With These Expert Tips for Seniors

Life Insurance Costs

Life Insurance Costs

It should come as no surprise that heart patients will pay more for life insurance. Darien, Illinois-based Life Quotes cites a list of factors that could lead to costlier life insurance policies for people with heart health issues. They include: a history of more than one heart attack, ongoing episodes of angina or chest pain, new electrocardiogram changes, uncontrolled hypertension, or other cardiovascular or renal disease.

home maintenance

Costs of Maintaining Your Home

Those who suffer from heart problems can find it difficult to do many of the things around their house that would otherwise be simple — and end up hiring other people to do them instead. According to home-services website Angie's List, the average cost for Angie's List members to have someone with general "handyman skills" come to their home is $83 per hour. Even having someone come out only couple of times a month to do small jobs, the bill could easily top $300 per month.

Related: 18 Things You Didn't Know You Could Repair to Save Money

airplane in sky

Career Loss

There are some jobs where a major heart attack could either end your career or at least put it on hold for an extended period. For commercial airline pilots, the Federal Aviation Administration says that pilots who have suffered angina pectoris, had a cardiac valve replacement, had coronary heart disease (that has been treated or, if untreated, that has been symptomatic or clinically significant), had a heart replacement, a myocardial infarction, or a permanent cardiac pacemaker would have disqualifying medical conditions.

Related: Most Annoying Issues Boomers Encounter When Looking for Work

man clutching heart

It May Happen Again

If heart-health issues aren't treated or controlled, they are likely to get worse. According to the American College of Cardiology, every year about 735,000 Americans have a first coronary attack. Even more sobering is that more than half that number who have already had at least one coronary attack will have another. Needless to say, they also face the additional costs.

Related: Most Common Health Issues for People Over 60

man in wheelchair with nurse

Cardiac Rehabilitation Costs

Enrolling in a cardiac rehabilitation program after a heart attack can be an important factor in preventing (or reducing) future heart problems. But it's complicated during a pandemic, when people should be keeping their distance from others — and was already a significantly underutilized form of recommended treatment, according to the American College of Cardiology. But a number of these programs are not always fully covered by insurance. While Medicare recipients have a $20 copay for each visit, those with private insurance can have a copay ranging from nothing to $60 per visit for 36 weeks, meaning out of pocket costs can range from $720 to more than $2,100. 

Related: 15 Free Ways to Protect Your Heart

senior man exercising at home on laptop

The Cost of More Exercise

The American College of Cardiology has affirmed that increasing your levels of exercise will increase the health of your heart — and that Americans need to do more of it. But if someone wants or needs help with that exercise from a personal trainer, the problem now is not just that the average hourly price is $50, as WebMD reports, with wide variations from $15 to $100 per hour, depending on the qualifications of the trainer; there's an additional coronavirus factor, that makes exercise in public or with a trainer a heart risk all its own.

Related: 20 Essential Exercises for Older Adults