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J Vasc Surg. 2002 May;35(5):950-7.

Why insurers should reimburse for compression stockings in patients with chronic venous stasis.

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Division of Vascular Surgery, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell Campus, 525 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10021, USA.



Chronic venous stasis ulcers produce substantial morbidity rates and result in a significant expense to society. Fortunately, compression stockings (CS) have been found to reduce the rate of recurrence in patients with previous ulceration. Surprisingly, Medicare and other insurers do not reimburse the expense associated with CS or with patient education (Ed), which is essential to ensure compliance.


A Markov decision analysis model was used for analysis of the cost-effectiveness of a strategy of reimbursement for CS and Ed (prophylaxis) versus one that does not supply these resources in a 55-year-old patient with prior venous stasis ulceration. The mean time to ulcer recurrence (53 months with CS+Ed; 18.7 months without prophylaxis), the mean time for ulcer healing (4.6 months), the probabilities of hospitalization (12%) and amputation (0.4%) after the development of an ulcer, and quality-adjustment factors (0.80 during ulcer treatment) were derived from the literature. The cost of CS ($300/year) and Ed ($93 for initial evaluation; $58/year; $40/recurrence) and the medical cost of ulcer treatment (average cost, $1621/recurrence) were calculated from our hospital cost accounting system.


A strategy of CS and Ed was cost saving, with 0.37 quality-adjusted life years and $5904 saved, compared with a strategy that does not provide these resources. The inclusion of loss of revenue related to absence from work in the analysis increased cost savings to $17,080 during the patient's lifetime. With sensitivity analysis, CS and Ed remained cost-effective (lifetime cost per quality-adjusted life year saved, <$60,000) if amputations and the cost of ulcer treatment were eliminated or if the cost of prophylaxis was increased to 600% of the base-case. The mean time to recurrence in patients with CS and Ed needed to be reduced from 53 months to 21.1 months before this strategy was no longer cost-effective.


Prophylactic CS and Ed in patients with prior venous stasis ulceration are cost saving, even with the most conservative of assumptions. Insurers should routinely reimburse for these interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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