ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 9 A study published today in TheJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (http://tinyurl.com/9x2ebc)found that the mean annual price tag for lupus - including medicalexpenditures, absence from the job, and short-term disability costs - wasnearly $20,000 per patient. The mean cost climbed to more than $60,000 perpatient when lupus was accompanied by the kidney disease nephritis, as itoften is. That's more than the average annual cost of other chronic conditionssuch as diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic obstructivepulmonary disease.
The Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters(http://www.thomsonreuters.com/business_units/healthcare/) conducted the studyin collaboration with researchers from the University of California at SanFrancisco, Emory University and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which funded theresearch.
The project analyzed the direct and indirect cost to employers of patientswith lupus, with and without nephritis, and compared those cost burdens tothat of other chronic diseases commonly found in an employed population.
"Lupus is a chronic, multi-system, autoimmune disease that primarilyaffects young people - particularly women - in their prime working years,"said Ginger Carls, economist and researcher for Thomson Reuters and leadauthor of the study. "While rare, it is an expensive condition that imposes asignificant burden on employers in terms of both productivity loss and directhealthcare costs. Therapies that can better manage lupus provide opportunitiesfor savings to employers and improved quality of life for patients."
Researchers used administrative medical claims data from the ThomsonReuters MarketScan(R) databases, representing the healthcare experience of 17million enrollees from over 100 large U.S. employers, to select patientsamples for the study. Patients who had at least one inpatient or twooutpatient lupus claims were matched with patients who had no indication ofthe disease but were similar in other respects (demographic, health plan,location, and health status characteristics).
They found that patients with systemic lupus erythematosus hadsignificantly higher direct medical expenses compared to the matched patients.Mean total medical expenditures for the year were $19,502 - more than twicethose of the control group during the same period. Short-term disability costswere also higher for lupus patients, though absence costs were not. Lupuspatients with nephritis had much higher medical expenses. The mean annualtotal medical expenditures for these patients were almost four times higherthan those for lupus patients without nephritis and $46,862 higher than thoseof the control group.
Using similar methods, the authors found that patients with asthma hadannual costs of $8,907. Diabetes patients had annual costs of $14,709, andheart disease patients had annual costs of $17,860. The authors also examinedthe cost burden per employee, calculated by multiplying the cost per patientwith the condition and the prevalence of that condition. Since lupus isrelatively rare, the average cost of lupus per employee was $22. The averagecost per employee for asthma was $191. For heart disease, this was $312.
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SOURCE Thomson Reuters