Key Takeaways

  • Open heart surgery refers to a wide range of procedures relating to urgent cardiovascular medical conditions.
  • With post-surgery and follow-up costs included, open heart surgery can cost as much as $500,000 in the U.S.
  • Medicare can assist with open-heart surgery costs, as the procedure is often performed as a medical necessity.
  • Medicare Part A may cover part of your hospital services and Part B covers extended recovery care.
  • You will likely be required to pay Part A and Part B deductibles before receiving coverage.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. As a result, open-heart surgeries are becoming more and more common. While the term “open heart surgery” is vague and describes a range of procedures, most of these procedures result from an urgent medical condition. Some of them also result in complications and long post-surgery care and follow-up costs. Open heart surgery in the U.S. can cost as much as $500,000 depending on the type of procedure. At such a high price point, you’re probably wondering: does Medicare cover open-heart surgery?

Fortunately, Medicare can assist you with some of these costs. While most Medicare literature doesn’t specify open heart surgery as a covered procedure, the US government’s health care program “covers many medically necessary surgical procedures.” The phrase “medically necessary” is key. Medicare will generally provide assistance with a wide range of conditions and procedures if your doctor can make the case that they are medically necessary for your survival or continued health.

Open heart surgery typically falls under the “medically necessary” category because it’s doubtful that doctors would recommend a procedure that involves opening the heart and operating on its internal structures if it were not vital to the patient’s continued health.

How much of open-heart surgery will Medicare cover?

It is difficult to know exactly how much Medicare will pay for your open heart surgery. Procedures vary in cost and complexity relative to your individual needs. Original Medicare Part A usually covers hospital-related expenses, which you will surely incur for a complex inpatient procedure like open-heart surgery. You should examine your Medicare statements or contact Medicare directly to see how much your Part A deductible is and how much, if any of it, you have already paid during the year that you will have open-heart surgery. Once you pay the full deductible, Medicare will begin covering the rest of your expenses.

Original Medicare Part B covers your doctor’s services as well as extended recovery care and rehabilitation following open-heart surgery. As with Part A, you will first need to pay your full Part B deductible. After you have done so, Medicare will pay 80% of the Medicare-approved cost for your procedure. You will be responsible for paying the other 20%. You may also be responsible for co-payments, depending on the structure of your surgery and aftercare, as well as how Medicare pays your individual benefits.

In addition to Parts A and B, you may receive open-heart surgery cost assistance from Medicare Part C (also called Medicare Advantage) if you are a plan member. Medicare Supplemental Insurance (also called Medigap) is another option to explore. In all cases, you should consult with your doctor to determine exactly which services you need, their cost, and how much Medicare or Medigap will assist you.

by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert 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.