Inflammatory Bowel Disease Carries Heavy Financial Burden

Direct costs for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis estimated to be $6.3 billion annually in U.S.

MONDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which affects roughly a million Americans, represents a costly burden both at the individual and national levels, according to research published in the December issue of Gastroenterology.

Michael D. Kappelman, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed a database containing insurance claims from health plans in 33 states for a two-year period. The authors identified more than 19,000 cases of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis; assessed their pharmaceutical, inpatient and outpatient costs; and subtracted the costs for a group of non-IBD matched controls.

The average annual costs were $8,265 for Crohn's disease and $5,066 for ulcerative colitis, the researchers report. The estimated annual disease-attributable direct costs of IBD are $6.3 billion, the authors write, with Crohn's disease costing $3.6 billion of that figure. Costs for both conditions were significantly higher for children compared to adults.

"The most striking finding in our study was the significantly increased costs incurred by children with IBD compared with adults. Several factors might explain this difference. First, it is likely that the pediatric population includes a higher proportion of incident cases than the adult population, and medical costs are known to be higher in the year following diagnosis compared with subsequent years. Secondly, some investigators have speculated that early-onset IBD is a specific subtype of IBD with greater extent and severity than adult-onset IBD," the authors write.

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