ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 10 A study published today in theJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that annual medicalexpenditures for Crohn's disease patients are more than three times higherthan those for a matched comparison group of patients. Similar results werefound for people with ulcerative colitis.
The study examined both direct medical costs - inpatient and outpatienthospital care, office visits, emergency room visits, and prescription drugs -and indirect costs - absenteeism and short-term disability expenses - forpatients with employer-sponsored health insurance. Annual medical expenses forCrohn's disease patients were $18,963 versus $5,300 for a matched comparisongroup. Ulcerative colitis patients' annual medical expenses were $15,020versus $4,982 for the matched comparison group.
Over 1 million individuals in the United States are affected by Crohn'sdisease and ulcerative colitis, which are inflammatory bowel diseases. Manyare first affected in their 20s and 30s, during prime working years.
In severe cases, gastrointestinal surgery can be warranted, resulting inhigh costs. Annual medical costs for patients with a gastrointestinal surgerywere $60,147 for patients with Crohn's disease and $72,415 for patients withulcerative colitis.
Patient samples for the study were selected from the Thomson ReutersMarketScan(R) databases representing the healthcare experience of almost 100large U.S. employers. Patients who had an episode of Crohn's disease orulcerative colitis (involving at least one inpatient admission, one emergencyroom visit or two outpatient visits) were matched with patients with noindication of either disease but similar in other respects (demographic,health plan, location, and health status characteristics).
The Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters conducted the research incollaboration with researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago,Emory University and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which funded the research.
"Employers and workers should continue to develop strategies to managechronic illnesses that can generate significant costs for healthcare servicesand may affect productivity," said Teresa Gibson, director of health outcomesfor the Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters and lead author of the study.
In this case, absenteeism costs were not substantially higher for workerswith Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis than it was for the control group.However, patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis were somewhatless likely to participate in the workforce, with annual short term disabilitycosts for both conditions exceeding controls by $1,000 per employee.
"These results emphasize the importance of early diagnosis and appropriatetreatment to address the costs of disability and lost productivity toemployees and employers," said co-author Wayne Burton, M.D., adjunct professorin the Department of Environmental and Occupational Sciences at the Universityof Illinois at Chicago.
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SOURCE Thomson Reuters