Background: Little is known about the economic impact of the acid-related disorders (ARDs), which include dyspepsia, gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and peptic ulcer disease (PUD), in managed care patient populations.
Objectives: To describe the prevalence of medically attended ARDs, and their direct medical costs from the perspective of a large health maintenance organization (HMO).
Methods: A total of 1,550 ARDs subjects (age > or = 18 years), were randomly sampled from outpatient diagnosis and pharmacy databases of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program of Northern California and verified by chart review. Five age- and gender-matched controls were identified per subject. One-year prevalence, excess annual costs, and initial 6-month costs for incident cases were estimated using the HMO cost accounting system.
Results: Total ARDs prevalence (5.8%) increases with advancing age. GERD is the most common ARD (2.9% overall prevalence). Annual per person attributable costs were $1,183, $471, and $431 respectively for PUD, GERD, and gastritis/dyspepsia. Excess inpatient costs for PUD explain its higher costs. Outpatient costs were somewhat higher for GERD ($279) than for PUD or gastritis/dyspepsia. Pharmacy costs were relatively low for each condition, in part because many patients were treated with generic cimetidine. Total annual HMO expenditures for ARDs were $59.4 million, with 40.6%, 36.8%, and 22.6% respectively for GERD, PUD, and gastritis/dyspepsia.
Conclusions: Acid-related disorders, particularly GERD and PUD, contribute substantially to the direct costs of medical care in this managed care population.