Health Care Costs, Utilization and Patterns of Care following Lyme Disease [1.3 billion USD]

[CanLyme note: This study has limitations as noted therein and does not include cost of taxpayer funded disability income payments to the chronically ill, loss of taxable income from those who are unable to work, loss of productivity in the employment sector, along with other indirect costs to society and the taxpayer.  It also does not reflect those infected with a Lyme disease bacteria not detectable using current CDC/IDSA protocol other than the estimated figures which many say are under estimated at least 3 fold.]

Abstract

 

Background

Lyme disease is the most frequently reported vector borne infection in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control have estimated that approximately 10% to 20% of individuals may experience Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome – a set of symptoms including fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, and neurocognitive complaints that persist after initial antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease. Little is known about the impact of Lyme disease or post-treatment Lyme disease symptoms (PTLDS) on health care costs and utilization in the United States.

Objectives

1) to examine the impact of Lyme disease on health care costs and utilization, 2) to understand the relationship between Lyme disease and the probability of developing PTLDS, 3) to understand how PTLDS may impact health care costs and utilization.

MethodsThis study utilizes retrospective data on medical claims and member enrollment for persons aged 0-64 years who were enrolled in commercial health insurance plans in the United States between 2006-2010. 52,795 individuals treated for Lyme disease were compared to 263,975 matched controls with no evidence of Lyme disease exposure.

Results

Lyme disease is associated with $2,968 higher total health care costs (95% CI: 2,807-3,128, p<.001) and 87% more outpatient visits (95% CI: 86%-89%, p<.001) over a 12-month period, and is associated with 4.77 times greater odds of having any PTLDS-related diagnosis, as compared to controls (95% CI: 4.67-4.87, p<.001). Among those with Lyme disease, having one or more PTLDS-related diagnosis is associated with $3,798 higher total health care costs (95% CI: 3,542-4,055, p<.001) and 66% more outpatient visits (95% CI: 64%-69%, p<.001) over a 12-month period, relative to those with no PTLDS-related diagnoses.

Conclusions

Lyme disease is associated with increased costs above what would be expected for an easy to treat infection. The presence of PTLDS-related diagnoses after treatment is associated with significant health care costs and utilization

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