Linear regression analysis of censored medical costs

Biostatistics. 2000 Mar;1(1):35-47. doi: 10.1093/biostatistics/1.1.35.


This paper deals with the problem of linear regression for medical cost data when some study subjects are not followed for the full duration of interest so that their total costs are unknown. Standard survival analysis techniques are ill-suited to this type of censoring. The familiar normal equations for the least-squares estimation are modified in several ways to properly account for the incompleteness of the data. The resulting estimators are shown to be consistent and asymptotically normal with easily estimated variance-covariance matrices. The proposed methodology can be used when the cost database contains only the total costs for those with complete follow-up. More efficient estimators are available when the cost data are recorded in multiple time intervals. A study on the medical cost for ovarian cancer is presented.