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Am J Manag Care. 2012 Apr;18(4):213-9.

Predicting costs with diabetes complications severity index in claims data.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



To test the usefulness of the Diabetes Complications Severity Index (DCSI) without laboratory test results in predicting healthcare costs, for potential use in disease management programs.


Retrospective cohort study using up to 2 years of claims data from 7 health insurance plans.


Individuals with diabetes mellitus and continuous enrollment were study subjects. The DCSI (sum of 7 diabetes complications graded by severity as 0, 1, or 2; range 0-13) and count of diabetes complications (sum of 7 diabetes complications without severity grading; range 0-7) were the main independent variables and were generated using only diagnostic codes. We analyzed 5 types of healthcare costs (ie, total costs, inpatient costs, hospital other costs, pharmacy costs, and professional costs) attributable to the DCSI and the complication count with linear regression models, both concurrently and prospectively.


The DCSI without laboratory data was a better predictor of costs than was complication count (adjusted R2 of total costs: 0.095 vs 0.080). The DCSI explained concurrent costs better than future costs (adjusted R2 of total costs: 0.095 vs 0.019). There were important differences in healthcare utilization among people stratifi ed by DCSI scores: 5-fold and 3-fold differences in concurrent and prospective total costs, respectively, across 4 DCSI groups.


The DCSI without laboratory data may be useful for stratifying individuals with diabetes into morbidity groups, which can be used for selection into disease management programs or for matching in observational research.

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