Incidence, prevalence, and medical expenditures of classical amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Taiwan, 1999-2008

J Formos Med Assoc. 2015 Jul;114(7):612-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jfma.2013.01.008. Epub 2013 Mar 9.


Background/purpose: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rare disease, which makes the estimation of incidence and prevalence difficult in Taiwan. This study was conducted to investigate the incidence, prevalence, and medical expenditure of ALS in Taiwan.

Methods: Patients who had at least one service claim either as an outpatient or inpatient between the years 2004 and 2007 and were over 15 years of age with a primary diagnosis of ALS were identified from the National Health Insurance Research Database. Additionally, ALS patients with serious disability database certificates over 15 years of age were included for the calculation of incidence and prevalence between the years 1999 and 2008. Lastly, the total medical expenditure, including ventilator use and riluzole, were reported.

Results: In 2006 and 2008, the average annual incidence and prevalence of ALS was 0.51 and 1.97 (per 10(5)), respectively, in Taiwan. The male-to-female ratio of incidence for ALS was 1.67. The average medical expenditure for ALS patients stayed steady at 16-fold greater than the general population of Taiwan in 2008. The percentage of ventilator and riluzole expenditure as a proportion of total medical expense decreased from 55% in 2000 to 33% in 2008.

Conclusion: The incidence and average medical expenditure of ALS patients remained stable over the years in Taiwan, however, as a proportion of total medical expenses, expenditure on ventilator and riluzole decreased over the study period.

Keywords: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; incidence; medical expenditure; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / economics*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / mortality*
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Expenditures / trends
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Young Adult