Risk factors, health outcomes, healthcare services utilization, and direct medical costs of patients with long COVID

Lilac Tene, Tobias Bergroth, Anna Eisenberg, Shirley Shapiro Ben David, Gabriel Chodick*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Data on the economic burden of long COVID are scarce. We aimed to examine the prevalence and medical costs of treating long COVID. Methods: We conducted this historical cohort study using data from patients with COVID-19 among members of a large health provider in Israel. Cases were defined according to physician diagnosis (definite long COVID) or suggestive symptoms given ≥ 4 weeks from infection (probable cases). Healthcare resource utilization and direct healthcare costs (HCCs) in the period before infection and afterward were compared across study groups. Results: Between March 2020, and March 2021, a total of 180,759 COVID-19 patients (mean [SD] age = 32.9 years [19.0 years]; 89,665 [49.6%] females) were identified. Overall, 14,088 (7.8%) individuals developed long COVID (mean [SD] age = 40.0 years [19.0 years]; 52.4% females). Among them, 1477(10.5%) were definite long COVID and 12,611(89.5%) were defined as probable long COVID. Long COVID was associated with age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.058 per year, 95% CI: 1.053-1.063), female sex (AOR = 1.138; 95% CI: 1.098-1.180), smoking (AOR = 1.532; 95% CI: 1.358-1.727), and symptomatic acute phase (AOR = 1.178; 95% CI: 1.133-1.224), primarily muscle pain and cough. Hypertension was an important risk factor for long COVID among younger adults. Compared with patients with non-long COVID, definite and probable cases were associated with AORs of 2.47 (2.22-2.75) and 1.76 (1.68-1.84) for post-COVID hospitalization, respectively. Although among patients with non-long COVID HCCs decreased from $1400 during 4 months before the infection to $1021 and among patients with long COVID, HCCs increased from $2435 to $2810. Conclusion: Long COVID is associated with a substantial increase in the utilization of healthcare services and direct medical costs. Our findings underline the need for timely planning and allocating resources for patient-centered care for patients with long COVID as well as for its secondary prevention in high-risk patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume128
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Funding

FundersFunder number
Merck0049-21-MHS
Merck Sharp and Dohme

    Keywords

    • Direct medical costs
    • Healthcare services use
    • Long COVID
    • SARS-CoV-2

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