Counting the Cost of Meningococcal Disease
Meningococcal disease can result in severe disabling sequelae, but there is no published information about the lifelong rehabilitation costs of patients with severe outcome in the UK. As cost-effectiveness studies play a crucial role in determining whether immunization programmes will be implemented, it is important to identify these costs.
The aim of the study was to estimate lifelong rehabilitation costs associated with severe cases of meningococcal disease and to present these costs in a format appropriate for use in a cost-effectiveness analysis.
Two severe scenarios of meningococcal disease with major sequelae were developed; one that presented acutely as meningitis and the other as septicemia. Scenarios were based on systematic reviews of the literature describing the sequelae of meningococcal disease, dialogue with Meningitis Research Foundation members who have experience of the disease, and discussions with pediatricians who have been responsible for managing children with this disease over many years. The two scenarios were devised to represent cases typical of the severe end of the spectrum. To obtain a comprehensive list of the health, educational and other resources used by survivors during and since their acute illness, families of individuals with sequelae similar to those in each of our scenarios were interviewed. Relevant academics and professionals in health, social care and education were consulted in order to ensure that our scenarios accurately represented the treatment and support that individuals with such sequelae might realistically receive from the National Health Service (NHS), the local authority and Personal Social Services (PSS). The majority of costs were derived from English Department of Health reference costs and unit costs of health and social care reflecting values for the financial year 2008–2009 indexed to 2010–2011. Costs were based on a life expectancy of 70 years in each scenario and are presented at a discount rate of 3.5 % for the first 30 years and 3 % thereafter, as recommended by the UK treasury (non-discounted costs are also presented for comparison). Costs are presented from both an NHS/PSS perspective and a government perspective.
This study has revealed that severe cases of disease that result in long-term sequelae can result in costs to the NHS/PSS of around £160,000–£200,000 in the first year alone. Over a lifetime of 70 years, discounted costs from an NHS/PSS perspective ranged from approximately £590,000 to £1,090,000 (£1,250,000–£3,320,000 undiscounted) and discounted costs from a government perspective ranged from £1,360,000 to £1,720,000 (£3,030,000–£4,470,000 undiscounted).
This study fills a gap in the UK literature and produces estimates that can be used in cost-effectiveness analysis to better represent the cost of illness at the severe end of the spectrum. Costs from a government perspective highlight the wider impacts of this disease, which is important for clinical decision makers, and budgetary and service planners to be aware of when making decisions about the benefits of implementing public health interventions such as immunization programmes.
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