Relationship between multimorbidity and direct healthcare costs in an advanced elderly population. Results of the PRISCUS trial

Z Gerontol Geriatr. 2012 Feb;45(2):146-54. doi: 10.1007/s00391-011-0266-2.


Objectives: The goal of this work was to analyze the impact of the extent of multimorbidity on health service resource utilization and, thus, direct healthcare costs of advanced elderly in the German population.

Methods: Based on a cross-sectional sample aged 72 or above in Germany (n = 1,937), a bottom-up study assessing resource utilization and corresponding costs was performed. Main data sources were patient-reported information concerning morbidity and health service resource utilization administered via telephone interviews within the framework of the PRISCUS trial. To value resource utilization, unit costs were determined for all services under consideration. In order to estimate the impact of multimorbidity on mean annual direct costs, a cumulative multimorbidity index was constructed. Influencing factors on annual average costs were identified via multivariate linear regression models.

Results: Mean annual direct costs of 3,315 EUR (95% confidence interval (CI) 3,118; 3,512) at 2010 prices were caused by the involved patients: 25% of mean annual costs were due to inpatient care, 20% to outpatient physician services, 20% to pharmaceuticals, 12% to assisted living and transportation, 8% to healthcare products and dentures, 7% to rehabilitation services, 5% to outpatient nonphysician providers, and 3% to spending from compulsory long-term care insurance. Each additional comorbidity was accompanied by a cost increase of 563 EUR (95% CI 488; 638). Participants with no diseases mentioned in the multimorbidity index caused average annual costs of 1,250 EUR. In contrast, respondents with 10 + diseases caused the highest mean annual costs of 6,862 EUR.

Conclusion: Longer life expectancy has become commonplace and is often associated with the simultaneous occurrence of several diseases. A clear understanding of the impact of multimorbidity on costs is highly relevant for health policy decision makers. The present study provides a well-founded basis to analyze the relationship between multiple morbidity and associated costs due to healthcare resource consumption of older adults in Germany.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease / economics*
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services for the Aged / economics*
  • Health Services for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Statistics as Topic