Celiac.com 08/08/2011 - In the face of steadily rising numbers of people with celiac disease, very little information exists on the economic costs and impacts associated with celiac disease.

A team of researchers recently set out to assess the impact of celiac disease diagnosis on health care costs and the incremental costs associated with celiac disease.

The research team included K. H. Long, A. Rubio-Tapia, A. E. Wagie, L. J. Melton III, B. D. Lahr, C. T. Van Dyke, and J. A. Murray.

They are affiliated variously with the Division of Health Care Policy & Research, the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the Division of Epidemiology, and the Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics at the College of Medicine of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

To carry out their population-based cohort, the team used administrative data on celiac disease cases and matched controls from Olmsted County, Minnesota.

They compared: 1) direct medical costs one year before and one year after celiac disease diagnosis for 133 index cases and for control subjects; and 2) cumulative direct medical costs over four years for 153 index celiac cases and for control subjects. Their analyses did not include diagnostic-related and outpatient pharmaceutical costs.

They found that a diagnosis of celiac disease lowers the average total costs by $1,764 in the year following diagnosis (pre-diagnosis cost of $5,023 vs. $3,259; 95% CI of difference: $688 to $2,993).

They found also that, over a 4-year period, people with celiac disease faced an average of $1,457 in higher outpatient costs (P = 0.016), and an average of $3,964 in higher total costs of $3,964; (P = 0.053), compared with the control group.

Men with celiac disease bore the brunt of those higher costs, with excess average total costs of just over $14,000 compared to costs of $4,000 for male controls; 95% CI of difference: $2,334 to $20,309).

Costs associated with celiac disease pose a significant economic burden, especially for men with the disease.

Early detection, diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease lowers medical costs, and will likely benefit patients and health care providers alike.

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