Background: Little is known about the specific cost effect of rhinitis on third-party payers. No recently reported studies have examined the economic burden of rhinitis in managed care. Furthermore, the direct costs of chronic rhinitis have not been evaluated and potential differences in health care use and costs of allergic rhinitis have not been examined. Objective: To evaluate the economic burden of allergic rhinitis and chronic rhinitis to third-party payers in a large US managed care plan. Methods: In a retrospective analysis using pharmacy and medical claims data from a US health plan covering approximately 15 million members, health care use and cost data were summarized for patients with allergic or chronic rhinitis (n = 301,001) for the 13-month study period (January 1, 2004, to January 31, 2005). Results: Average rhinitis-related total costs were $657 per patient each year ($319 in medical costs and $338 in pharmacy costs). Ambulatory visits were the primary contributor to rhinitis-related medical costs. Antihistamines were the most common rhinitis medication, followed by intranasal corticosteroids (INSs) and montelukast. Many patients (37% with at least 1 filled prescription for an antihistamine, an INS, or montelukast) used combination therapy. Of the 3 main pharmacotherapy categories, montelukast was associated with the highest pharmacy cost ($353 vs $198 for antihistamines and $231 for INSs per patient each year for monotherapy) and drove the average annual cost of combination therapy regardless of the concomitant medication(s). The most common comorbidities were sinusitis and asthma, present in 51.1% and 27.9% of patients, respectively. Comorbidities increased rhinitis-related health care costs. Conclusions: Allergic rhinitis and chronic rhinitis imposed a significant financial burden on third-party payers in a large US managed care plan. The presence of comorbidities further increased the rhinitis-related treatment costs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine