The Direct Healthcare Cost of Stargardt Disease: A Claims-Based Analysis

Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 2021 Dec;28(6):533-539. doi: 10.1080/09286586.2021.1883675. Epub 2021 Feb 21.


Purpose: Stargardt disease (SD) is the most common juvenile macular degeneration and a leading cause of uncorrectable childhood blindness. The progressive and incurable nature of this chronic condition entails a long-term financial burden on affected individuals. The economic costs of SD have not been characterized in detail, so we aimed to estimate the direct healthcare cost of SD.Methods: Outpatient administrative claims data (2010-2014) for patients with SD were analyzed from the IBM® MarketScan® Commercial Claims and Encounters Database. Two comparison groups were selected: nonexudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (SHL). Gross median payments per year of insurance coverage were calculated.Results: A total of 472,428 patients were analyzed (5,015 SD, 369,750 SHL and 97,663 AMD patients respectively). The payment per year of insurance coverage for SD (median: 105.58 USD, IQR: 50.53 USD-218.71 USD) was higher than that of SHL (median: 51.01 USD, IQR: 25.66 USD-121.66 USD, p < .001) and AMD (median: 76.20 USD, IQR: 38.00 USD-164.86 USD, p < .001). When adjusted for age, sex, year of first service, and type of benefit plan, the annual payment for SD was 47.83 USD higher than SHL (p < .001) and 17.34 USD higher than AMD (p < .001).Conclusions: There is a significant direct healthcare cost associated with SD. The annual per-patient cost of SD was higher than SHL, another condition that causes sensory impairment in people of all ages, and nonexudative AMD which causes a similar pattern of visual loss that typically begins later in life. The total lifetime per-patient cost of SD may exceed that of nonexudative AMD.

Keywords: Inherited retinal diseases; Low vision; Macular degeneration; Orphan disease; Visual rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blindness
  • Child
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Stargardt Disease