HumanInsight Long-haul COVID: healthcare utilization and medical expenditures 6 months post-diagnosis
BMC Health Serv Res. 2022 Aug 8;22(1):1010. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-08387-3.
BACKGROUND: Despite extensive evidence that COVID-19 symptoms may persist for up to a year, their long-term implications for healthcare utilization and costs 6 months post-diagnosis remain relatively unexplored. We examine patient-level association of COVID-19 diagnosis association of COVID-19 diagnosis with average monthly healthcare utilization and medical expenditures for up to 6 months, explore heterogeneity across age groups and determine for how many months post-diagnosis healthcare utilization and costs of COVID-19 patients persist above pre-diagnosis levels.
METHODS: This population-based retrospective cohort study followed COVID-19 patients' healthcare utilization and costs from January 2019 through March 2021 using claims data provided by the COVID-19 Research Database. The patient population includes 250,514 individuals infected with COVID-19 during March-September 2020 and whose last recorded claim was not hospitalization with severe symptoms. We measure the monthly number and costs of total visits and by telemedicine, preventive, urgent care, emergency, immunization, cardiology, inpatient or surgical services and established patient or new patient visits.
RESULTS: The mean (SD) total number of monthly visits and costs pre-diagnosis were .4783 (4.0839) and 128.06 (1182.78) dollars compared with 1.2078 (8.4962) visits and 351.67 (2473.63) dollars post-diagnosis. COVID-19 diagnosis associated with .7269 (95% CI, 0.7088 to 0.7449 visits; P < .001) more total healthcare visits and an additional $223.60 (95% CI, 218.34 to 228.85; P < .001) in monthly costs. Excess monthly utilization and costs for individuals 17 years old and under subside after 5 months to .070 visits and $2.77, persist at substantial levels for all other groups and most pronounced among individuals age 45-64 (.207 visits and $73.43) and 65 years or older (.133 visits and $60.49).
CONCLUSIONS: This study found that COVID-19 diagnosis was associated with increased healthcare utilization and costs over a six-month post-diagnosis period. These findings imply a prolonged burden to the US healthcare system from medical encounters of COVID-19 patients and increased spending.
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