Lifetime healthcare expenses across demographic and cardiovascular risk groups: The application of a novel modeling strategy in a large multiethnic cohort study

Am J Prev Cardiol. 2023 Mar 23:14:100493. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpc.2023.100493. eCollection 2023 Jun.


Objective: To understand the burden of healthcare expenses over the lifetime of individuals and evaluate differences among those with cardiovascular risk factors and among disadvantaged groups based on race/ethnicity and sex.

Methods: We linked data from the longitudinal multiethnic Dallas Heart Study, which recruited participants between 2000 and 2002, with inpatient and outpatient claims from all hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex through December 2018, capturing encounter expenses. Race/ethnicity and sex, as well as five risk factors, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, smoking, and overweight/obesity, were defined at cohort enrollment. For each individual, expenses were indexed to age and cumulated between 40 and 80 years of age. Lifetime expenses across exposures were evaluated as interactions in generalized additive models.

Results: A total of 2184 individuals (mean age, 45±10 years; 61% women, 53% Black) were followed between 2000 and 2018. The mean modeled lifetime cumulative healthcare expenses were $442,629 (IQR, $423,850 to $461,408). In models that included 5 risk factors, Black individuals had $21,306 higher lifetime healthcare spending compared with non-Black individuals (P < .001), and men had modestly higher expenses than women ($5987, P < .001). Across demographic groups, the presence of risk factors was associated with progressively higher lifetime expenses, with significant independent association of diabetes ($28,075, P < .001), overweight/obesity ($8816, P < .001), smoking ($3980, P = .009), and hypertension ($528, P = .02) with excess spending.

Conclusion: Our study suggests Black individuals have higher lifetime healthcare expenses, exaggerated by the substantially higher prevalence of risk factors, with differences emerging in older age.

Keywords: Healthcare expenses; Social determinants of health.