Background: The cost of care for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is known to be high. The factors responsible for higher ESRD cost develop during chronic kidney disease (CKD), where the data on distribution of cost are limited.
Methods: This retrospective cohort study of 1995 through 1998 incident dialysis patients was performed to study the distribution of costs during the 24 months prior to initiation of dialysis. Patient data were obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Patients who were Medicare eligible for at least 2 years prior to initiation of dialysis were included in the study. Financial data were obtained from Medicare Part A and Part B claims and inflationary adjustments were made. The study period was divided into four segments based on overall distribution of cost.
Results: The mean age was 75 years, 51% were males, 73% were white, and 22% were black. Overall, patient comorbidity increased significantly during the study years. Cost showed a sharp increase in the last 6 months prior to initiation of dialysis. Hospitalization was the major component of cost throughout study period. Patients who initiated hemodialysis incurred a higher cost compared to patients who initiated other modes of kidney replacement therapy. Patients with diabetes or cardiovascular disease incurred higher cost compared to those who had no diabetes or cardiovascular disease, respectively.
Conclusion: These data showed that hospitalization was the major component of the sharp increase in cost around the initiation of dialysis. Increased comorbidity was associated with higher cost. A focus on timely management of CKD may prevent future morbidity and costs.