Determinants of health care costs and patterns of care of asthmatic patients in Switzerland

Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 2000 Mar 4;130(9):305-13.


Objective: To investigate whether medical resource utilisation, costs and clinical status were influenced by: (1) type of physician (specialist versus GP); (2) treatment modality (on-demand vs long-term continuous therapy); (3) labour force participation; (4) insurance coverage (private vs statutory); (5) geographic area (urban vs rural).

Material and methods: Chart reviews in the last 5 patients seen by treating physicians. Direct medical expenditure included charges for hospitalisation, outpatient services, physicians' services and medication, whereas indirect costs included the value of time lost from work.

Results: The overall annual mean cost per patient in 589 patients was CHF 2600 [95% confidence interval: 1956; 3245]. Costs in 117 children were CHF 824 [531; 1116], and CHF 3041 [2244; 3837] in adults. Compared with pulmonologists, adults treated by GPs had a higher rate of hospital admissions, equal specialist referrals and more days off work. Hospital admissions in children were similar in GPs and paediatricians. Total direct costs were highest for internists, followed by GPs. Pulmonologists incurred the lowest direct costs in adults compared to GPs or internists (p < 0.05). Total costs for children were equal for GPs and paediatricians. Differences in costs between on-demand and long-term prophylactic treatment were: CHF 834 [318; 1351] versus CHF 1856 [1488; 2224], (p = 0.002). Highest total costs were observed for unemployed patients and those receiving disability payments. Patients with supplementary insurance cover had a lower overall resource utilisation rate and costs than patients without: CHF 2284 [95% CI: 535; 4034] versus CHF 2670 [1844; 3496] (p = 0.8). Total costs were CHF 2319 [1660; 2979] for patients treated in cities and CHF 3062 [1742; 4382] in rural areas (p < 0.0001) as well as lower in the German-speaking part of the country (CHF 2320 [1743; 2897]) than in the French-speaking region (CHF 3610 [1479; 5740] [p < 0.005]).

Conclusions: Factors determining higher resource utilisation and costs are: treatment by non-specialists, long-term continuous treatment, the absence of supplementary health care insurance, treatment in rural areas, and treatment in the French-speaking cantons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / economics*
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Family Practice
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / economics
  • Medicine
  • Rural Population
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Specialization
  • Switzerland
  • Urban Population