The First Study on Lifetime Medical Costs for Women
Washington, D.C. (September 19, 2002) The Society for Women's Health
Research, on behalf of The Partnership for Long-Term Health for Women, today
announced the results of the first-ever study quantifying the lifetime medical
costs of treating women with chronic illnesses. The study, conducted by Analysis
Group | Economics, focused on women who have been treated for cardiovascular
disease (CVD), diabetes, or stress urinary incontinence (SUI), three conditions
that differentially affect women in the United States.
Lifetime incremental medical costs for women include
$423,000 for CVD, $233,000 for diabetes (i.e., Type 1 and Type 2), and $58,000
for SUI. These are the costs of treating a woman with the condition versus the
cost of treating a woman without the condition. Coexisting conditions that may
be increasing the cost of CVD include the added costs of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia,
and obesity. Coexisting conditions that may increase the cost of diabetes include
hypertension, retinopathy and nephropathy. Costs of stress urinary incontinence
patients are also related to the treatment of coexisting conditions, such as
menopause, obesity and urinary tract infection. The study examined both lifetime
and annual medical costs for women.
"The findings show that the medical costs for treating
women with these three conditions are staggering and we view these results as
prompting a much needed call-to-action," said Phyllis Greenberger, MSW, President
and CEO of the Society for Women's Health Research. "The study helps us raise
awareness of the need for women to educate themselves about their potential
health risks, understand the importance of disease prevention and the need for
more research to advance treatments and therapies, as well as prepare themselves
Annual incremental medical costs were also found to
be high. The annual incremental medical costs for women up to age 64 who were
treated for CVD, diabetes or SUI are $6,700, $5,550 and $3,300, respectively.
For women treated for hypertension and/or hypercholestrerolemia (who also may
have been treated for CVD), the average annual incremental cost is $3,100.
According to published government statistics, medical costs to treat a woman
65 years and older are approximately five times higher than those
of a woman aged 64 and younger. The annual incremental medical costs for women
65 years and older being treated for CVD, diabetes or SUI are $30,700, $25,000
and $15,000, respectively. These lifetime cost findings are the first-ever estimates
and suggest the need for further research and methodological developments.
Both lifetime and annual figures are incremental costs, which are defined as
the costs to treat the conditions and their related co-morbid (i.e. coexisting)
conditions. These costs may be driven by treatment of related CO-morbid conditions
and patterns of medical services use.
"The study provides a snapshot of the high costs of treating women burdened
with these conditions and demonstrates that medical costs for treating these
women can be a great economic burden," stated Howard Birnbaum, Director of the
Health Economics Practice at Analysis Group | Economics in Boston, which conducted
the independent study. "The results provide a starting point for policy discussions
about the lifetime economic burden of illness for women and the nation. They
also provide a good baseline for women to take appropriate action regarding
their health and financial security."
These findings serve as an indicator for what is spent on
the medical treatment of women suffering from a particular disease. The study
also conveys the need for policy makers to provide more resources for additional
clinical research, gender-based healthcare information, and access to preventive
care for all women.
The study's research objective was to estimate the
medical cost for treating women with CVD, diabetes, or SUI over their lifetime.
Researchers used medical claims data from a national Fortune 100 company, which
were supplemented with government statistics. The research sample included
over 20,000 women. Women treated for each condition were matched to similar
women ("controls") without the condition (based on age, employment status, geographic
locations, and per capita income levels).
The estimated costs of women 65 years and older are
based on claims data and published government statistics. These annual cost
estimates form the basis for calculating lifetime costs.
Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes and SUI
Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death among women. About 950,000
Americans die of cardiovascular disease each year, equaling one death every 33
seconds. More than half of all cardiovascular disease deaths each year occur
Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating, and often deadly
illness. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States alone.
Diabetes is also a progressive illness that requires different treatments at
different stages and has a high prevalence rate among women (8.2%), affecting
approximately 8 million women in the U.S.
A May 2002 survey by the National Association for Continence found that stress
urinary incontinence affects one in three American women in the US SUI is the
involuntary leakage of urine brought on by "stress" or pressure upon
the bladder as a result of laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting, or exercise,
and often goes undiagnosed because women are frequently too embarrassed to discuss
it. Estimates show only 1 out of 12 women will talk to their healthcare professional
About The Society for Women's Health Research
About The Partnership for Long-term Health for Women
The Society for Women's Health Research is the nation's only not-for-profit
organization whose sole mission is to improve the health of women through research.
The Society advocates increased funding for research on women's health, encourages
the study of sex differences that may affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment
of disease, and promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies.
The Partnership for Long-term Health for Women was formed in 1999 by leaders from
national and international organizations representing women, healthcare, aging,
and minority communities who joined together to identify ways to provide women
with accurate health information and empower them to take preventive action.
The Partnership currently represents more that 50 national organizations and is
funded by the Lilly Centre for Women's Health, whose mission is to produce extraordinary
value for women by understanding and leveraging sex and gender-based research
and the influential role of women in healthcare.
Created: 9/19/2002  - Donnica Moore, M.D.