Importance: Despite the increasing incidence of chronic cutaneous ulcers (CCUs), limited information exists regarding their incremental economic burden. Objective: To provide nationally representative estimates regarding the incremental health care cost of CCUs, controlling for comorbidities and sociodemographic characteristics. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective analysis used 9 years of longitudinal data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS; January 1, 2007, through December 31, 2015). Patients with CCUs were identified using Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-produced software that included several codes from the International Classification of Disease, 9th Revision Clinical Modification, for chronic ulcers of the skin. A cross-validated 2-part generalized linear model estimated the adjusted incremental expenditure for individuals with CCUs while controlling for comorbidities and sociodemographic covariates. Data were analyzed from July 1 through September 1, 2018. Main Outcomes and Measures: Incremental cost of CCUs, total cost of care, and expenditures associated with inpatient care, outpatient care, prescription medications, emergency department visits, and home health care. Results: A total of 288 698 patients (52.4% female; mean [SD] age, 38.2 [22.4] years) were included, of whom 1786 had CCUs and 286912 did not. Patients with CCUs were more likely to be female (1078 [60.4%]), non-Hispanic (1388 [77.7%]), previously or currently married (1440 [80.6%]), and covered by Medicaid/Medicare (852 [47.7%]) and had a lower income (954 [53.4%]) when compared with patients without CCUs (P <.001 for all). The mean (SD) annual cost of care per patient with CCUs was greater than 4 times that of patients without CCUs ($17958 [$1031.90] vs $4373.20 [$48.48]). After controlling for Charlson comorbidity index and sociodemographic factors measured in MEPS, the cost of care for patients with CCUs was 1.73 times as high as that of patients without CCUs (95% CI, 1.53-1.96; P <.001), and patients with CCUs were estimated to incur $7582.00 (95% CI, $6201.47-$8800.45) more in annual health care expenditures. When accounting for the prevalence of CCUs (0.6%), CCUs were associated with more than $16.7 billion per year in population-level US health care expenditures. Among patients with CCUs, mean annual expenditures rose from the 2010-2012 to 2013-2015 periods in association with prescription medications ($3117.26 to $6169.12), outpatient care ($3568.06 to $5920.75), and home health care ($1039.54 to $1670.56). Conclusions and Relevance: Results of this study suggest that chronic cutaneous ulcers are associated with substantial incremental increases in annual health care expenditure. Expenses for patients with CCUs are increasing, particularly with regard to outpatient cost of care and prescription medication expenditure. As health care costs rise, investigators must identify strategies to prevent and treat CCUs..
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