Objective: To compare health care expenditure and health status for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) between nations with distinct mechanisms for funding and delivering health care services.
Methods: Seven hundred eight patients with SLE from 2 centers in each of 3 countries (Canada 229, United States 268, United Kingdom 211) underwent physician assessment of disease activity and damage and reported on physical and psychosocial well being, satisfaction, social support, and health resource utilization. To compare overall utilization, constant prices (1997 Canadian dollars) were applied across countries for each service, enabling diverse resources to be collapsed into a single expression.
Results: After adjusting for important patient covariates, Canadian, compared to American and British patients, reported significantly superior health status in 3 of 8 Medical Outcome Survey Short Form-36 (SF-36) subscales, the SF-36 physical component summary score, and the visual analog scale of general health status. There was no consistent trend in patient satisfaction. Overall annual resource utilization did not vary significantly, with mean annual per patient expenditures (adjusted for demographics, disease duration, activity, damage, social support, health status, patient satisfaction, and age and sex adjusted country-specific SF-36 general population norms) totalling $4853, $5285, and $4760 for Canada, US, and the UK, respectively. However, within each resource category, differences were observed. Canadians saw more specialists than the British, the British more generalists. Canadians and Americans were more frequent users of the emergency room; Americans of laboratory/imaging procedures. Canadians had higher hospital costs than Americans.
Conclusion: After adjustment, Canadian patients reported better well being than their counterparts. Despite considerable differences in the mechanisms of health care funding and service mixture, overall resource utilization did not vary significantly between the countries, although there was a trend towards more intense use of inpatient services in Canada and outpatient services in the United States.