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Societal Cost: Diagnosed Lyme Could be Nearly $1 Billion Annually!

CDC: Emerging Infectious Disease

In a recent publication of Emerging infectious Diseases, researchers analyzed reported Lyme disease cases in endemic states to assess the total patient and societal cost.   

The study by Hook SA, Jeon S, Niesobecki SA, et al (Economic Burden of Reported Lyme Disease in High-Incidence Areas, United States, 2014–2016) analyzed reported Lyme disease cases in endemic states to assess the total patient and societal cost.   Approximately 476,000 Lyme disease cases are diagnosed in the United States annually, yet research into the economic impact on society is hardly considered.  

“To estimate the patient cost, we summed self-reported patient medical costs, nonmedical costs, and cost of productivity losses over all surveys per participant. To calculate the societal medical costs, we summed the mean cost per CPT code collected for each participant. Finally, we calculated the societal cost by summing the societal medical costs, patient nonmedical costs, and cost of productivity losses per participant.”

Throughout the enrollment period, 1,360 patients were contacted that were confirmed or probable Lyme disease cases.  1,118 (82%) patients consented to patient cost surveys; 901 (81%) completed survey data in the patient cost analysis; 613 (68%) completed societal medical cost data.

Findings showed a mean patient cost of ~ $1,200 (median $240) and a mean societal cost of ~ $2,000 (median $700).   The annual aggregate cost of diagnosed Lyme disease could be $345-968 million.   The low median amount suggests Lyme disease is manageable for most patients, but highly expensive for a few.

Patients with confirmed disseminated disease or probable disease had approximately double the societal cost of those with confirmed localized disease.   The study results did NOT include suspected, undiagnosed, or non-acute cases and thus actual cost is likely much higher.

These findings highlight a huge economic burden to individual patients and US society and highlight the need for effective prevention, early diagnosis, and more accurate testing to reduce illness and associated costs. 

Access to full text publication here