Study of COVID-19 in the US Quantifies Elevated Health Care Costs Associated with the Disease

July 11, 2022

Researchers from Analysis Group and Janssen Scientific Affairs coauthored a study investigating the differences in health care resource use (HRU), direct health care costs, and COVID-19-related complications between patients in the US with and without a diagnosis of COVID-19. The study is among the first to use real-world data to quantify the health care costs of treating COVID-19, both in the immediate aftermath of diagnosis and throughout the following six months. The study, “Direct health care costs associated with COVID-19 in the United States,” was published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.

For this study, the research team – including Managing Principals Noam Kirson and Elyse Swallow, Manager Debbie Goldschmidt, and Senior Analysts Karen Yang, Marta Viola, and Tyler Radtke – matched cohorts of patients with and without a COVID-19 diagnosis, grouping them by insurance type: commercial insurance and Medicare. The retrospective observational study found the mean incremental burden of COVID-19 to be highest in the first month after diagnosis, with increased costs of $3,706 and $10,595 per commercial and Medicare COVID-19 patient, respectively, compared to the control groups. Large differences in HRU were also observed between the cohorts, particularly in the number of inpatient admissions, emergency room visits, and outpatient visits. While the gap between the HRU and costs of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients narrowed over time, the economic burden associated with COVID-19 patients was still significant through the fifth month after diagnosis, reflecting ongoing care required by some patients. The researchers also found that a significantly larger number of COVID-19 patients suffered from at least one of the following complications within six months of diagnosis: fatigue, dyspnea, chest pain or discomfort, joint pain, cough, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, cognitive symptoms, and cardiac injury.

The researchers’ finding of an incremental burden that persisted for several months after the acute disease phase has the potential to inform clinical programs that address long COVID-19, as well as inform economic models evaluating treatments, vaccines, and public health policies related to the disease.

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