SERIOUS AS A HEART ATTACK
Taking care of your heart isn't just the right thing to do for your health, it's also the right thing to do for your wallet since 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 healthcare costs and lost productivity caused by cardiovascular disease," says Barbara Bowman, former director of the CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. Find out some of the ways untreated or unmanaged heart disease can hurt you financially as well as physically.
DIRECT MEDICAL COSTS
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that in 2009, 22.3 million people — or 9.7 percent of adults age 18 and older — had some healthcare expenditures related to heart disease. The report found that direct medical spending on heart disease totaled $95.5 billion — the majority of which ($52.9 billion) was for in-patient care. It also concluded that average total expenditures per adult for the treatment of heart disease (among those with expenditures for the condition) were $4,279 in 2009, while expenditures per adult for in-patient care averaged $2,371, office-based care averaged $537, and outpatient care averaged $411.
Heart disease also means spending money on prescription medicine. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report also found that among adults with heart disease expenses, 74.8 percent 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.
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 2011 study, the average hourly wage plus benefits for civilian workers in the United States was $29.18 per hour. So for each 8-hour day of work missed beyond the days allotted for sick leave and paid time off, that was $233.44 per day. Even if an employee misses only five days a week per year (over and above allotted sick days or paid time off), it could cost more them more than $1,100 annually in lost wages.
Even with insurance, it will cost heart patients 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).
HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS
The cost of health insurance for those suffering with chronic heart conditions and other diseases is currently 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. If the law is repealed or changed, however, costs for those with heart disease could change.
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.
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.
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.
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 785,000 Americans have a first coronary attack. Even more sobering is that fact that more than half that number — another 470,000 — who have already had at least one coronary attack will have another attack. Needless to say, they also face the additional costs.
CARDIAC REHABILITATION COSTS
Enrolling in a cardiac rehabilitation program following a heart attack can be an important factor in helping to prevent (or reduce) future heart problems. The American College of Cardiology also reports that this is a significantly under-utilized form of recommended treatment. But a number of these programs are not always fully covered by insurance. The Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease cost $9,895 in 2009, of which only $5,650 was covered by Medicare.
THE COST OF MORE EXERCISE
In 2016, the American College of Cardiology affirmed the idea 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, WebMD reports that the average hourly price is $50 (with wide variations from $15 to $100 per hour, depending on the qualifications of the trainer).