Cost of Illness

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Cost of Illness

What is cost of illness analysis?

Cost of illness analysis is a way of measuring medical and other costs resulting from a specific disease or condition. For example, heart disease in the United States costs more than $321 billion each year—$193 billion in direct medical costs and $128 billion in lost productivity from early death.1

What inputs are included

Cost of illness analysis may include direct costs, productivity losses, and intangible costs of a disease or injury. Direct costs from a disease or condition may include:

  • Medical costs, such as the cost of diagnostic tests, physician office visits, and drugs and medical supplies
  • Non-medical costs, such as travel costs for obtaining care and related childcare costs.
  • Productivity losses include impacts of patient and caregiver participation in an intervention, such as work or leisure time lost due to participation in the intervention. These costs are generally more complicated to measure than direct costs.

What output does a cost of illness analysis provide?

Cost of illness analysis provides the economic costs of an illness, injury, or risk factor.

Example of Cost of Illness Analysis2:

Icon of a person in bed with a medical cross above them

Burden of Salmonella and Listeria, 2011

Salmonella Listeria
Burden of Salmonella and Listeria, 2011
Cases 1,027,600 1,600
Hospitalizations 19,300 1,500
Deaths 376 255
Medical Costs $313M $138M
Productivity Losses $81M $48M
Total cost of illness
medical + productivity losses
$394M $186M
Average cost or cost per case
total cost/number of cases
$393 $116,250

While salmonella is far more common and has higher total costs, listeria has significant costs and a much higher cost per case.

For additional information, please see the example as used in the CDC Introduction to Economic Evaluation in Public Healthexternal icon online training, as well as the original study.

How can decision makers use this information?

Cost of illness analysis provides decision makers information on the economic burden of a disease or condition, which offers a sense of how big a problem is. This can, in turn, inform priority setting. However, as you can see from the example above, costs are only one part of the picture.


Resources

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CDC Introduction to Economic Evaluationexternal icon
Course providing a broad overview of economic evaluation methods with illustrative examples from public health

References

  1. Benjamin E, Blaha M, Chiuve S, et al. on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2017 Update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2016; 135: e146-e603.
  2. Hoffmann S, Maculloch B, Batz M. Economic burden of major foodborne illnesses acquired in the United States, EIB-140,U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, May 2015. http://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/eib140/52807_eib140.pdfpdf iconexternal icon