Background: The prevalence and economic burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are increasing worldwide. However, little information is available concerning COPD-associated health care use and costs in Korea.
Objective: To analyse 1) health care use, medical costs and medication use in 2009, and 2) changes in costs and medication use over 5 years (2006-2010).
Design: Using the database of the Korean Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, COPD patients were identified by searching on both ICD-10 codes and COPD medication. RESULTS A total of 192,496 COPD patients were identified in 2009. Total medical costs per person were US$2803 ± 3865; the average annual number of days of out-patient care and days of hospitalisation were respectively 40 ± 36 and 11 ± 33. Methylxanthine and systemic beta-agonists were the most frequently used drugs. However, the number of prescriptions for long-acting muscarinic antagonist increased rapidly. The total cost of COPD-related medications increased by 33.1% over 5 years.
Conclusion: The present study provides new insight into health care use and the economic burden of COPD in Korea. Changing patterns of COPD-related medication use could help inform COPD management policies.