Purpose: The purpose of this study is to estimate the cost-effectiveness of diabetes self-management programs in real-world community primary care settings. Estimates incorporated lifetime reductions in disease progression, costs of adverse events, and increases in quality of life.
Methods: Clinical results and costs were based on programs of the Diabetes Initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, implemented in primary care and community settings in disadvantaged areas with notable health disparities. Program results were used as inputs to a Markov simulation model to estimate the long-term effects of self-management interventions. A health systems perspective was adopted.
Results: The simulation model estimates that the intervention does reduce discounted lifetime treatment and complication costs by $3385, but this is more than offset by the $15,031 cost of implementing the intervention and maintaining its effects in subsequent years. The intervention is estimated to reduce long-term complications, leading to an increase in remaining life-years and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio is $39,563/QALY, well below a common benchmark of $50,000/QALY. Sensitivity analyses tested the robustness of the model's estimates under various alternative assumptions. The model generally predicts acceptable cost-effectiveness ratios.
Conclusions: Self-management programs for type 2 diabetes are cost-effective from a health systems perspective when the cost savings due to reductions in long-term complications are recognized. These findings may justify increased reimbursement for effective self-management programs in diverse settings.