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10 most expensive surgeries in Australia
Your out-of-pocket costs can really add up for these common surgeries.
Surgeries can be roughly separated into three different categories: urgent or emergency surgeries, which have to be performed almost immediately; elective and semi-elective surgeries that are important for a patient's health, like organ transplants; and cosmetic elective surgeries like breast implants or liposuction.
The cost of a particular surgery and what you actually end up paying out of pocket varies considerably depending on the circumstances. Medically necessary elective, semi-elective and urgent/emergency surgeries you receive as a public patient in a public hospital are completely covered by the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS). However, if you are a private patient, specialists can charge additional fees and Medicare will only provide for between 75% and 85% of those extra costs.
Private health insurance will typically cover some or all of this gap, depending on the procedure.
In this article, we're only considering medically necessary elective or semi-elective surgeries. Be aware that we're looking at average prices calculated by several insurers in Australia: the overall cost of surgery can be radically higher or lower depending on how much a particular surgeon charges.
No matter what organ you're considering, transplants are easily the most expensive surgery you can have. The amount of work involved transferring an organ from one body to another is immense, running close to $150,000 for a heart or liver. Even a single kidney will cost around $40,000 to install.
Coronary artery bypass graft: $44,000
This highly invasive surgery is used to improve blood flow to the heart. It involves grafting a healthy vein or artery to an existing blocked one, thus bypassing the blockage inside the vein or artery.
Spinal fusion: $42,000
Spinal fusion involves surgically joining together two or more bones in your spine, usually to treat chronic lower back pain caused by degenerated discs.
Hip replacement: $25,000
A common procedure for older individuals, hip replacement involves removing an existing hip, usually due to arthritis or similar, and replacing it with an artificial hip instead. It's intended to relieve pain and aid easy movement.
Colorectal surgery: $25,000
This involves the removal of part or all of your colon or rectum. This can be prompted by disease or damage to your colon or rectum from something like cancer or Crohn's disease.
Knee replacement: $23,000
Much like a hip replacement, knee replacement involves removing the knee joint and replacing it with an artificial one. It's intended to relieve pain and increase mobility, especially for people with conditions like arthritis.
Gallbladder surgery: $17,000
The gallbladder is a non-vital organ located in your abdomen. It can sometimes grow painful gallstones or develop other problems, necessitating its removal – usually through a small keyhole incision in your torso.
Pacemaker insertion: $16,000
The heart works by pumping blood through your body, timing its contractions so that oxygenated blood is pumped to your muscles and tissues and deoxygenated blood flows to your lungs. A pacemaker uses electrical impulses to regulate your heart's rhythm and make sure it's functioning properly with its contractions.
Angioplasty and stent insertion: $16,000
Angioplasty and stent insertions serve a similar purpose: they increase blood flow through your veins and arteries. In angioplasty, a small balloon is inserted and inflated to open up blood vessels. A stent is a small tube that is inserted in the vein or artery to ensure that it stays open.
Prostatectomy is the removal of the prostate. Whether necessitated by prostatitis or prostate cancer, this procedure seeks to negate a prostate condition by removing the organ from the body.
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