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Korean J Gastroenterol. 2011 Dec;58(6):323-31.

[Health care costs of digestive diseases in Korea].

[Article in Korean]

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Department of Internal Medicine, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, National Evidence-based Healthcare Collaborating Agency, Seoul, Korea.



Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases impose a heavy economic burden. We aimed to provide the first report on the health care utilization and costs of GI diseases in Korea.


We collected the data from all insurance claims database of National Health Insurance Corporation in Korea and the cause of death database in 2007 of Korea National Statistical Office. We compiled information about all digestive disease as a primary diagnosis on clinic visits, hospitalization, and cause of death from these databases.


Seventeen million people (35.6%) had a diagnosis of GI diseases during the year 2007. Among them, the proportion of patients with upper GI diseases was prevalent in 54.9% (9.5 million patients/year). The 1/4 patients in out-patients clinic had any one of gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. Thirteen percent of the total direct cost in 2007 was attributed to all GI diseases, which was 3,649 billion won (0.4% of GDP). The patients with hospitalization occupied by 5% of all patients with GI diseases, however, attributed to 58.9% of GI-related direct costs. GI malignancy was the major cause of medical expenses in hospitalization. Stomach cancer continues to be the leading cause of GI-related death in Korea.


GI diseases causes a heavy socioeconomic burden with high morbidity of functional GI disorders in outpatients care and high mortality of GI malignancy in inpatient care. This report highlights the healthcare utilization burden of GI diseases for researchers and public health policy maker to create new directions of integrated researches and health care plan.

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