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Clinical Observation
December 10/24, 2001

Economic Burden of Pneumonia in an Employed Population

Author Affiliations

From the Analysis Group/Economics, Cambridge, Mass (Dr Birnbaum, Ms Morley, and Mr Greenberg), and Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC (Dr Colice). Ms Cifaldi was at Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Kansas City, Mo, at the time of this study. Dr Colice has consulted for Aventis Pharmaceuticals.

Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(22):2725-2731. doi:10.1001/archinte.161.22.2725

Objective  To estimate the overall economic burden of pneumonia from an employer perspective.

Methods  The annual, per capita cost of pneumonia was determined for beneficiaries of a major employer by analyzing medical, pharmaceutical, and disability claims data. The incremental costs of 4036 patients with a diagnosis of pneumonia identified in a health claims database of a national Fortune 100 company were compared with a 10% random sample of beneficiaries in the employer overall population.

Results  Total annual, per capita, employer costs were approximately 5 times higher for patients with pneumonia ($11 544) than among typical beneficiaries in the employer overall population ($2368). The increases in costs were for all components (eg, medical care, prescription drug, disability, and particularly for inpatient services). A small proportion (10%) of pneumonia patients (almost all of whom were hospitalized) accounted for most (59%) of the costs.

Conclusions  Patients with pneumonia present an important financial burden to employers. These patients use more medical care services, particularly inpatient services, than the average beneficiary in the employer overall population. In addition to direct health care costs related to medical utilization and the use of prescription drugs, indirect costs due to disability and absenteeism also contribute to the high cost of pneumonia to an employer.

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