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  • Destiny Stone
    Destiny Stone

    The Economics of Celiac Disease: Is Early Celiac Diagnosis Cost Effective?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo:/ CC Rob Lee

    Celiac.com 07/12/2010 - Celiac disease was at one time considered a rare disease. However, celiac is now gaining notoriety as a common genetic autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1% of Western countries. As the celiac epidemic starts to rise, the costs of medical diagnosis and treatments for celiac disease are now being scrutinized.

    The study, approved by the Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center Institutional Review Boards, involved a group of doctors and researchers who compared population-based administrative data of celiac cases and matched controls from Olmsted County, Minnesota in an effort to evaluate: “direct medical costs 1 year pre- and post- celiac disease diagnosis for 133 index cases” and to compare 4-year cumulative direct medical costs incurred by 153 index cases against 153 controls. Total analysis excluded any diagnostic-related and outpatient pharmaceutical costs.


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    The impacts of diagnostic costs for celiac disease were determined by comparing the costs accrued one year before and one year after receiving a positive celiac diagnosis. Services and costs were identified as related to the celiac diagnosis and included serological testing, endoscopy, surgical pathology and consultation and bone densitometry.

    One-hundred and fifty-three celiac patients and one-hundred and fifty-three matched controls were evaluated for medical costs that were associated with celiac disease over a four-year observation period. During that four-year period, total cumulative medical costs were observed for those patients with celiac disease.

    Following a celiac diagnosis, total direct medical costs were decreased by an average of $2,118 per year. Average costs decreased by $1,764, and over a 4-year period, celiac patients experienced higher outpatient costs and higher total costs when compared to the controls. Total excess costs were more significantly concentrated among celiac males.

    From this study, scientists were able to conclude that associated celiac disease costs indicate a profound economic burden specifically for males with celiac disease. Accurate diagnosis of celiac disease and appropriate treatments for celiac significantly reduces direct medical care costs. From this, it is evident that there is an economic advantage to early diagnosis of celiac disease.

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    Ii found that early diagnosis would have saved 30 years of cost not to mention, false diagnosis and a long hospital stay, that almost took my life. Then one more year of suffering until Ii found out what was ailing me. Now I wait to finally get better.

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    The study doesn't even fully capture the medical costs incurred by repeatedly visiting doctor after doctor, or hospital stays, or numerous tests performed during all the YEARS before someone is finally properly diagnosed as celiac. 11 years, on average, for someone in the US to be properly diagnosed and that doesn't include all the people who haven't been properly diagnosed (so it's closer to 30 years)! And STILL it shows that there are cost savings to performing the medical tests needed to reach a proper diagnosis of "celiac".

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  • About Me

    I diagnosed myself for gluten intolerance after a lifetime of bizarre, seemingly unrelated afflictions. If my doctors had their way, I would have already undergone neck surgery, still be on 3 different inhalers for asthma, be vomiting daily and having chronic panic attacks. However, since eliminating gluten from my diet in May 2009, I no longer suffer from any of those things. Even with the proof in the pudding (or gluten) my doctors now want me to ingest gluten to test for celiac-no can do.

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