Costs of rheumatoid arthritis: new estimates from the human capital method and comparison to the willingness-to-pay method

Med Decis Making. 2007 Mar-Apr;27(2):138-50. doi: 10.1177/0272989X06297389.


Background: Individuals' valuation of changes in health states in monetary terms have been measured by examining changes in the direct and indirect costs of disease and by the willingness-to-pay (WTP) methodology.

Methods: In 2002, a 2-part study was conducted in Quebec. In one part of the study, 121 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients from the McGill University Health Centre were mailed the Stanford Cost Assessment Questionnaire, which enabled the elicitation of direct costs and indirect costs, according to the friction cost and the human capital methods. The other part was a phone survey conducted in a representative sample of the general population and in the same sample of patients, aiming to elicit the societal WTP for a complete cure of RA in the context of 2 different scenarios: a public coverage or private insurance. These estimates were then compared.

Results: Estimates of the cost of illness of RA ranged from 11,717 to 28,498 Canadian Dollars (CAD) depending on the method. These estimates are higher than those previously published in Canada from the 1990s, which is partly due to the recent and costly biological therapies and to a change in the measurement of productivity losses. These estimates are somewhat lower than the societal WTP elicited from the WTP survey, that is, 26,717 and 36,817 CAD per RA case, depending on the public or private health insurance context in which the cure would be available.

Conclusion: Given that neither method is ideal, data from both methods would provide an important sensitivity analysis when monetary estimates of health state changes are required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / economics
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / economics*
  • Canada
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / economics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs / economics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antirheumatic Agents