Background: Population-based estimates of costs of renal replacement therapy are scarce in the literature. The aim of our study was to calculate the costs of long-term dialysis in 2006 on the basis of patient-specific data from a well-defined population in a region in western Germany (n = 310,757).
Methods: Cost estimation was performed from the perspective of the statutory health insurance. All dialysis patients from the study region (n = 344, 54% male, mean age (+/-SD) 69 +/- 13 years, 42% diabetic) were assessed for the costs of the dialysis procedures, dialysis-related hospital admissions, outpatient contacts outside of our dialysis center, dialysis-related medication, patient transportation and related costs (e.g. reimbursement fees on the basis of the German diagnosis-related group system, price scales). We estimated the cumulative cost per patient year in 2006 (in Euros), along with the 10th and 90th percentiles and the 95% confidence intervals (CI) by using bootstrapping procedures.
Results: The mean total dialysis-related cost in 2006 was 54,777 Euros (95% CI, 51,445-65,705) per patient year. The largest part of the costs (55%) was caused by the dialysis procedures, followed by the costs of medication (22%), hospitalization (14%) and transportation (8%). The total cost increased significantly with increasing age. No significant association was found between total cost and sex, dialysis strategy, end-stage renal disease duration and diabetes.
Conclusions: We present for the first time a cost estimation of dialysis in Germany on the basis of patient-level data in a population-based sample. Except age, patient characteristics were not significantly associated with costs. The largest part of the costs was caused by the dialysis procedures themselves; however, other dialysis-specific health care utilization also strongly contributed to the total cost.