The United States is the leading country in a study by the World Society of Arrhythmias on how many people worldwide had pacemakers. The study occurred in 61 countries. Out of the 1,002,664 individuals worldwide, the US led with just over 225,000 citizens that rely on a pacemaker.

Below we’re going to discuss Medicare coverage for pacemakers, when conditions they treat, and how to get additional Medicare coverage.

Medicare Coverage for Pacemakers

Implanted pacemakers assist with controlling heart rhythm. In some cases, they are temporary, but in the majority, the implantation of a pacemaker is permanent. Medicare will cover the costs if your physician determines that a pacemaker is medically necessary.

How does Medicare cover pacemakers?

The Medicare program will cover pacemakers. Your surgery for the pacemaker implantation is usually performed as an inpatient hospital procedure and requires a hospital stay. Medicare Part A will cover the procedure.

You’ll be responsible for your Medicare Part A deductible. As long as you are out of the hospital and back home within 90 days, Medicare Part A covers the surgical procedure.

Medicare Part B would cover pacemaker services that fall under outpatient care. Since the pacemaker is considered Durable Medical Equipment, you’re responsible for your Medicare Part B deductible and a 20% coinsurance of the Medicare-approved amount.

Medicare Part D will cover prescription drugs needed after the procedure.

Medicare Supplement Coverage for Pacemakers

The most comprehensive coverage you can add to Original Medicare is a Medicare Supplement plan. These Medigap insurance plans work as secondary coverage to traditional Medicare.

Your Medicare Supplement health plan will also pick up anything that Medicare pays under Medicare Part A or Part B.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have standardized and regulated these plans. Depending on your plan letter, you may have little to nothing to pay out of pocket for a pacemaker.

These plans do have additional premiums in addition to your Medicare premium. Since Medicare Supplement plans only cover items included under Medicare Part A and Part B, you’ll need to enroll in Part D prescription drug plan for prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Advantage Coverage for Pacemakers

Another additional Medicare option to consider is a Medicare Advantage plan. Commonly referred to as Medicare Part C, these plans are required to offer, at a minimum, the same coverage provided by Medicare Parts A and B.

These plans are administered by private insurance companies and provide additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage programs have their copays and costs associated with them. An implanted cardiac pacemaker could be a fixed, predictable copay. These plans can vary greatly depending on where you live and the plan you choose.

When is a Pacemaker needed?

Your doctor may recommend a pacemaker if you live with health conditions that cause heart complications. Some common reasons one may need are if you have a health condition that may cause

heart rhythm disorder or trouble performing daily activities. The following medical conditions may require a pacemaker.

In addition to the conditions listed above, other heart conditions may become life-threatening and require the implantation of a pacemaker.

Types of Medicare-Covered Pacemakers

Several types of pacemakers are available to treat different heart diseases and complications. Depending on the reason you need a pacemaker, your doctor will prescribe one of the following:

Single Chamber Pacemakers

Single chamber pacemakers have a single lead attached to the heart’s top or bottom.

Dual Chamber Pacemakers

Dual chamber pacemakers have two leads. One is attached to the top of the heart, and the second is attached to the bottom.

Biventricular Pacemakers

Biventricular pacemakers are special pacemakers that are also called cardiac resynchronization therapy. They have three leads attached to the heart to help adjust the rhythm of the heart. One lead connects to the top, and the other two connect to the bottom.

Pacemakers treat:

  • Damage after a heart attack
  • Enlarged Heart
  • Electrical problems affecting heart rate
  • Heart failure

How the Pacemaker Type Determined

Your doctor will schedule and have several tests completed to determine if a pacemaker is required and which type of device is needed. These tests determine the root cause of your irregular heartbeat.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

An EKG is a non-evasive test that measures the electrical activity of your heart. Electrodes are attached to the chest; in some cases, electrodes get attached to the chest, legs, and arms. The electrodes communicate with a computer that displays the results. An EKG can show whether the heart is beating too slowly or not.

Echocardiogram

An Echocardiogram uses sound waves to create an image of the heart. Your healthcare provider will use it to determine your heart’s size, motion, and structure.

Holter Monitoring

A Holter monitor is a small wearable device that monitors and tracks your heart’s rhythm. Your doctor may require you to wear the monitor for multiple days. Holter monitoring is a valuable test to detect issues that are hard to replicate and occur randomly and unpredictably.

Stress Test

Stress tests monitor or determine heart issues that only occur while exercising. When taking a stress test, you’ll generally have an EKG as a baseline, followed immediately by a light workout on a treadmill or bike. Once you have completed the light exercise, you’ll receive another EKG test. Sometimes, a stress test will include an echocardiogram or nuclear imaging test.

FAQs

Does Medicare cover heart pacemakers?

Yes! Medicare will cover a pacemaker if your healthcare provider says it’s medically necessary.

What is the cost of having a pacemaker implanted?

Your final cost of the implantation of a pacemaker depends on your healthcare coverage and plan. If you remain on Original Medicare only, you could be susceptible to 20% or between $10,000 and $100,000 by completing all tests and procedures. However, beneficiaries with a Medicare Supplement plan could have little to no costs.

Does Medicare insurance pay for pacemakers?

Your Medicare insurance will pay all or a portion of the costs related to your pacemaker if it’s medically necessary. How much you pay varies greatly depending on the insurance you carry.

Is the cost of a pacemaker covered by Medicare?

Medicare will cover the costs of a pacemaker as long as your physician deems it medically necessary.

How to Get Medicare Coverage For a Pacemaker

Medicare is great coverage but can be a bit complicated. Let our licensed experts assist you in making the process smooth. We can educate and answer any questions you may have and help with the enrollment process. Give us a call or fill out our online request form for assistance.

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by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare editor for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.