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Ann Rheum Dis. 2005 Oct;64(10):1456-61. Epub 2005 Mar 30.

Direct costs related to rheumatoid arthritis: the patient perspective.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Hannover, Germany.



To determine rheumatoid arthritis related out of pocket expenditure (OOPE) in Germany and to disaggregate the total OOPE into contributing cost domains.


Data for the cost analysis were drawn from a multicentre randomised controlled prospective trial to assess the effectiveness of clinical quality management in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Both payer sources and patient cost questionnaires were used to generate health care utilisation data. All cost domains of a recently published matrix were reviewed and potential sources of OOPE were determined. Health care utilisation data were developed throughout 2001. Co-payment regulations as per January 2004 were applied in order to indicate the most recent level of OOPE in Germany. Data were analysed in both physical and monetary units using descriptive statistics.


In all, 136 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were included. Mean total OOPE per patient and year was 417.20 Euro (SEM 38.8, median 271.2). OOPE accounted for 15.3% of the total direct costs of rheumatoid arthritis. Total OOPE were further subdivided into cost domains: "non-physician service utilisation"' (194.40 Euro per patient and year; SEM 24.2), "medication" (99.00 Euro; 6.1), "transportation" (56.20 Euro; 17.4), "visits to physicians" (38.40 Euro; 0.6), "hospital facilities" (24.00 Euro; 5.6), and "devices and aids" (5.10 Euro; 0.8).


Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with substantial OOPE, imposing a considerable economic burden for patients. OOPE contribute significantly to the total health care expenditure in rheumatoid arthritis. The patient perspective has to be taken into account when calculating the overall direct costs of rheumatoid arthritis from a societal point of view.

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