Objective: To estimate the morbidity, mortality, and lifetime costs of care for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: We developed a Markov model based on the Arthritis, Rheumatism, and Aging Medical Information System Post-Marketing Surveillance Program cohort, involving 4,258 consecutively enrolled RA patients who were followed up for 17,085 patient-years. Markov states of health were based on drug treatment and Health Assessment Questionnaire scores. Costs were based on resource utilization, and utilities were based on visual analog scale-based general health scores.
Results: The cohort had a mean age of 57 years, 76.4% were women, and the mean duration of disease was 11.8 years. Compared with a life expectancy of 22.0 years for the general population, this cohort had a life expectancy of 18.6 years and 11.3 quality-adjusted life years. Lifetime direct medical care costs were estimated to be $93,296. Higher costs were associated with higher disability scores.
Conclusion: A Markov model can be used to estimate lifelong morbidity, mortality, and costs associated with RA, providing a context in which to consider the potential value of new therapies for the disease.