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Healthcare cost attributable to bronchiolitis: a population-based cohort study

Sander B, Finkelstein Y, Lu H, Nagamuthu C, Graves E, Ramsay LC, Kwong JC, Schuh S. PLoS One. 2021; 16(12):e0260809. Epub 2021 Dec 2. DOI:

Objective — To determine 1-year attributable healthcare costs of bronchiolitis.

Methods — Using a population-based matched cohort and incidence-based cost analysis approach, we identified infants <12 months old diagnosed in an emergency department (ED) or hospitalized with bronchiolitis between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2014. We propensity-score matched infants with and without bronchiolitis on sex, age, income quintile, rurality, co-morbidities, gestational weeks, small-for-gestational-age status and pre-index healthcare cost deciles. We calculated mean attributable 1-year costs using a generalized estimating equation model and stratified costs by age, sex, income quintile, rurality, co-morbidities and prematurity.

Results — We identified 58,375 infants with bronchiolitis (mean age 154±95 days, 61.3% males, 4.2% with comorbidities). Total 1-year mean bronchiolitis-attributable costs were $4,313 per patient (95%CI: $4,148-4,477), with $2,847 (95%CI: $2,712-2,982) spent on hospitalizations, $610 (95%CI: $594-627) on physician services, $562 (95%CI: $556-567)] on ED visits, $259 (95%CI: $222-297) on other healthcare costs and $35 ($27-42) on drugs. Attributable bronchiolitis costs were $2,765 (95%CI: $2735-2,794) vs $111 (95%CI: $102-121) in the initial 10 days post index date, $4,695 (95%CI: $4,589-4,800) vs $910 (95%CI: $847-973) in the initial 180 days and $1,158 (95%CI: $1,104-1213) vs $639 (95%CI: $599-679) during days 181-360. Mean 1-year bronchiolitis costs were higher in infants <3 months old [$5,536 (95%CI: $5,216-5,856)], those with co-morbidities [$17,530 (95%CI: $14,683-20,377)] and with low birthweight [$5,509 (95%CI: $4,927-6,091)].

Conclusions — Compared to no bronchiolitis, bronchiolitis incurs five-time and two-time higher healthcare costs within the initial and subsequent six-months, respectively. Most expenses occur in the initial 10 days and relate to hospitalization.

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