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Healthcare Costs Rise as Lupus Disease Activity Increases

by | Sep 15, 2021

Research continues to demonstrate the significant economic burden of lupus. On the heels of a recent study showing the physical and economic toll of the disease within the first two years of diagnosis, now a new study finds people with moderate to severe lupus face steep healthcare costs just one year after diagnosis.

Researchers looked at 2,227 people with mild, moderate and severe lupus and assessed their healthcare usage and costs in the one year prior to lupus diagnosis and the year after diagnosis. Regardless of disease severity, healthcare costs increased for all people within the first year of being diagnosed. However, costs were significantly higher for those with greater disease activity.

In the year before diagnosis, average healthcare costs per person were:

  • $12,373 for people with mild lupus
  • $22,559 for people with moderate lupus
  • $39,261 for people with severe lupus

In the year following diagnosis, average healthcare costs per person were:

  • $13,415 for those with mild lupus
  • $29,512 for those with moderate lupus
  • $68,260 for those with severe lupus

One year after diagnosis, costs were twice as high for people with moderate lupus and five times as high for people with severe lupus compared to those with mild disease activity. Outpatient visits and hospitalizations were the top two drivers of these costs.

In the year after diagnosis, roughly half (51%) of those with severe disease activity and nearly one-quarter (22%) of those with moderate disease activity were hospitalized overnight, while 13% of those with mild lupus were hospitalized. Higher disease activity was also associated with longer average hospital stays. Those with severe lupus had an average hospital stay of five and half days.

The economic burden of lupus can be overwhelming, but there are proactive steps you can take to minimize your medical expenses. Learn about reducing your healthcare costs.

Read the study

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