If a second hip replacement surgery is needed, private insurance and patients must pay the tab. Government bears the largest portion of those expenses, because Medicare and Medicaid fund over half of knee and hip replacements in the United States. Therefore, every American who pays taxes is somehow affected by the extremely expensive nature of a hip revision surgery.
Revision surgeries are very costly, and this is due to fact orthopedic devices do not include warranties. They are often longer and more complicated to perform. Author Barry Meier profiled the case of William R. Morris, whose device was part of the August 26, 2010 recall. He was billed over $50,000 for the cost of revision surgery due to the failure of the first implant. The profits hip manufacturers make from these surgeries are staggeringly high. Around $6.7 billion is profited by medical device manufacturers. Due to the factors of not including warranties, and selling hip implant surgeries for full-price, up to $15,000, hip replacements are incredibly lucrative for companies.
The real expense of failed joints, however, is not calculable. The United States has yet to create a joint registry, which tracks each joint’s performance. Surgeons also benefit from joint sales, receiving payments to promote the implantation of joints. Dr. Lawrence D. Dorr, a Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon, summed it up well when he said, “Companies have dumped these costs into the health care system. They don’t have any skin in the game.”
As a hip replacement recall lawyer, I will be interested to know if a national joint registry becomes established in the United States and whether or not government works to lessen the financial burden of hip joint surgeries on taxpayers.