Getting your knee replaced—despite the hefty price tage—could give you a leg up on making more money in the long term.
The average total knee replacement surgery generates indirect savings of almost $40,000—more than offsetting the cost of an operation that itself costs about $21,000, according to a new study being published in the The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.
The study looked at 600,000 total knee replacement surgeries performed in 2009 and suggests that the lifetime "societal savings"—mainly in the form of patients' continued employment and increased earnings—equal about $12 billion.
Those savings are on track to grow dramatically in coming years as more people have the procedure as a result of aging or obesity. The number of people getting knee replacements increased to 644,000 in 2011 and is expected to grow to 3.5 million a year by 2030.
In the past few years, people have begun getting replacements when they're younger, said Lane Koenig of KNG Health Consulting and an author of the study. That's why surgery has a net financial benefit for many patients, in addition to reducing their pain and enhancing their mobility.
"You've got a younger population—they're working age," he said.