Provision of Dermatologic Care in a Universal Health Care System: A 17-Year Review

J Cutan Med Surg. 2021 Apr 11;12034754211008164. doi: 10.1177/12034754211008164. Online ahead of print.


Background: Limited data is available on the burden of dermatologic disease including disease distribution and providers of care. Research is needed to facilitate health care planning and improve patient care.

Objectives: To investigate the demographics and economics of the provision of dermatologic care in a universal health care system from fiscal year 2000 to 2016.

Methods: A retrospective population-based analysis was performed on physician billing claims for dermatologic conditions from April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2017. Data came from the province of Ontario's universal health care plan claims records accessed through IntelliHealth.

Results: Dermatologic claims made up 3.6% of all physician claims, with a 20% increase seen over time. The cost of dermatologic claims increased by 70% between fiscal 2000 and 2016, with the average cost per claim increasing by 41%. However, the cost of dermatologic claims as a percentage of all health care claims experienced a decline from 3.5% in fiscal 2000 to 2.8% in fiscal 2016. Over the study period, family physicians submitted 56% to 62% of dermatologic claims, dermatologists 24% to 29%, pediatricians 3% to 4%, and internists 1%. Overall, internists billed the highest average cost per dermatologic claim ranging from $39 in 2000 to $60 in 2016, followed by pediatricians at $33 to $58, dermatologists at $28 to $39, and family physicians at $23 to $30.

Conclusions: The demographic and economic burden of dermatologic disease is changing over time, with implications for health care planning, advancing medical education, and patient care.

Keywords: costs and cost analysis; demographics; dermatology; epidemiology; health services research.