Monday, February 20, 2006

Who Should Pay for Replacing Recalled Medical Devices?

The New York Times reported on growing controversy about how recalls of medical devices are handled.
In 2005, a considerable number of cardiac devices, particularly implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs), were recalled. (See most recent post here.)
The Times reported that although the device makers covered the cost of new devices to replace potentially defective ones, they did not cover the actual costs of the surgical procedures needed to replace them. "Manufacturers of implantable devices insist that their responsibilities are clearly spelled out in product warranties and that medical costs related to a device's replacement are not covered."
There is apparently some push back from both Medicare, and health care insurance companies and managed care organizations, who end up paying for the replacement costs. "Karen M. Ignagni, the president of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group in Washington, questioned why insurers and their customers, 'who are the ultimate payers,' should bear the costs of having devices replaced."
It's nice to see that Medicare and managed care are actually starting to question why they pay so much for the replacement of potentially medical defective devices. Maybe they should also start to question why they paid so much for the implantation of the devices in the first place.

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