For People with Lupus, Organ Damage Accrual Comes with Escalating Healthcare Costs Too
New research shows that the more organ damage a person with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) accrues, the higher their healthcare costs will be. In fact, the study found that those with the highest organ damage index scores had annual healthcare costs roughly 12 times higher than the people with the lowest damage scores – and that trend appears to continue long-term. Over the course of ten years, people with the greatest amount of organ damage had cumulative healthcare costs nearly nine times higher than those with the least amount of damage. The data also revealed that older patients and those of Caucasian race/ethnicity had lower healthcare costs.
While previous studies have investigated the economic impact of organ damage, this study was the first to assess an international, multi-ethnic group of participants. Researchers collected data from 1,687 people with SLE across 11 countries where they were enrolled in the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) inception cohort.
A partner of the Lupus Foundation of America, SLICC developed the Damage Index used in the study – the only internationally accepted measurement of the long-term effects of SLE on the body. Without this index, it would be impossible to study those effects over time and compare them between different countries, geographies, and ethnic groups. Megan Barber, MD, PhD and an author on the study shared “In addition to worsened health outcomes and decreased quality of life, damage is associated with considerable financial cost. We need to work harder to prevent it by controlling active lupus and comorbidities, making better use of existing drugs, and developing new ones.”
In addition to the tremendous physical strain lupus can cause, it can also result in serious financial stress for those living with the disease. Learn about reducing your healthcare costs.