Background and purpose: In Germany, hypertension has a prevalence of about 20%. Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality are closely associated with hypertension. Therefore, antihypertensive medical treatment is of crucial importance. Currently, five groups of drugs for the medical treatment of hypertension are available: diuretics, beta-receptor blockers, calcium antagonists, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor blockers. Besides medical considerations for the treatment of hypertension costs of treatment and other economic aspects become more and more important. Within this article, the antihypertensive treatment of insurants of the statutory health insurance and the private health insurance is compared with regard to the medical treatment and associated costs.
Methods: The analyzed data derive from the general practice morbidity research network CONTENT (CONTinuous morbidity registration Epidemiologic NeTwork). The implementation of this network is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF) for a continuous registration of health-care utilization, morbidity, course of disease, and outcome parameters within primary care.
Results: Altogether 4,842 patients from the participating general practitioners were regularly treated with antihypertensive drugs in 2007 and corresponding episodes were documented within electronic medical records. The proportion of insurants of the private health insurance was 7.6%. The costs of the antihypertensive medical treatment within the total sample in 2007 constituted 1.03 million Euros overall and per patient on average 212.82 Euros. Although the regarded sample of private health insurants was less morbid and the sum of defined daily doses (DDDs) within the observation period was notably lower (582.6 vs. 703.1; p < 0.0001), the annual therapy costs of the private health insurants compared to the statutory health insurants were 35.2% higher (280.29 Euros vs. 207.29 Euros; p < 0.0001). Hence, costs per DDD for antihypertensive medical treatment for private health insurants were 63.2% higher than for statutory health insurants. This refers to the great proportion of angiotensin II receptor blockers as well as the low proportion of generic drugs prescribed for private health insurants.
Conclusion: Antihypertensive treatment with original drugs and/or angiotensin II receptor blockers is an expensive option. Based on the actual state of knowledge it must be questioned critically whether this constitutes a superior treatment option concerning the potential for lowering high blood pressure levels and organ protection.