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Question For European, Canadian and Aussie Members

This question is for our members who live in a country where health care has been nationalized.

How hard is it to get a replacement pacemaker when the batteries run out on the current machine?

The reason I am asking this is the it appears pretty much inevitable that the U.S. will go to some sort of national healthcare system before 2016,  In 2018 the battery in my pacemaker will likely be exhausted.  I do not need the pacemaker to live but but without it I would have a heartrate between 40 & 42 bpm - i.e. not one to allow me to be very active at all. In 2018 I will be a 67 year old type 2 diabetic who is likely retired (or at least semi-retired) and has a couple of other medical problems.

My procedure a year ago cost over $40k.  I figure by 2018 the same procedure with the new machine will probably run upwards of $100k.  With Medicare I would not be afraid of being turned away when it came time to replace the machine.  With bureaucrats calling the shots and making the decisions (instead of Doctors) I am not so sure.  What can you folks living under socialized/nationalized healthcare systems tell me?

Please speak straight.  Do not sugar coat anything.  

Thanks in advance,
Cyborg Bill
5 Responses
Avatar universal
Speaking as a Canadian getting a battery replacement in Canada is something that is done as required. Cost is not an issue. Sometimes you might have to travel to a hospital that does the procedure and the travel costs are not covered by all provincial health plans but the cost of tests, doctor appointments and ALL surgeries are covered. I had an ICD implanted in a hospital 600 miles away and there were no costs whatsoever. I also had a $5400 genetic test paid for by my provincial health plan.

I'm assuming you are an American and I do hope that this works out for you guys. I think the best thing for all Americans would be to have a health system similar to Canada's. It seems to work here but one thing to remember is you will have to be prepared to pay more income tax to help cover it. We pay quite a bit more income tax than our American neighbours but for my peace of mind it is something I don't mind paying for.
Avatar universal

Hoping to get responses from folks in Oz, Great Britain and Europe.  Please share.  
Avatar universal
I have not had personal experience of this issue but did work for the NHS for many years. As far as I know if you require the pacemaker and it was fitted by the NHS then it will be maintained on the NHS no matter what other medical issues you have.

Changing to a nationalised health care system from a predominately private one should, I would hope, allow you the same access to healthcare as you would get anywhere that is nationalised which is that you will be treated on a needs basis rather than anything else.

I do sympathise with the low heart rate. Mine drops to the 30s on occassion and sits in the 40s for some time. It does make it very difficult to do anything, even move around the house. Not  to mention what it does for my ability to go to the gym.

Hope that helps.
Avatar universal
I am from Australia but sorry my knowledge re pacemakers is limited as I don't have one, so no idea of costs about that. But my grandma has had a pacemaker for 20 years but she hasn't had any problem getting batteries replaced and she is on a pension with no much money so I doubt there were any cost issues there. At least she's never said.

Our healthcare system is pretty good although of course we are a very highly taxed country. Then because of the way it is set up we are sort of forced into private health insurance on top of that, the government pays a rebate to encourage people to go into private health insurance...  Private covers dental, optometry etc, and public covers the blood tests, cardio tests, cardio visits etc. For example I paid $245 for a cardiologist visit and ECG, which Medicare paid about $300 I think, otherwise the total cost would be $545 or something like that.

It's a bit tricky to directly compare health and tax systems of different countries because of the way the Medicare and tax systems are set up differently in each country, and the influence of private health insurance as well, and also the way the countries are (Australia is small ($20 million) but aging population which impacts healthcare costs as you imagine) , but you can get an idea about Australia's tax system here and the Medicare levy we pay to give you some idea, at these websites:



Avatar universal
Sorry that should be 20 million people, not $20 million , unless each Australian was worth $1 lol. By the way those $ figures are in Aussie dollars which is worth about 80 american cents at the moment I believe.  
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