Study addresses lifetime medical costs for women

November 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

A new study, sponsored by the Society for Women's Health Research, finds that lifetime medical costs of treating women with certain debilitating illnesses can be high and calls for women to educate themselves on disease prevention.

A new study, sponsored by the Washington-based Society for Women's Health Research, finds that lifetime medical costs of treating women with certain debilitating illnesses can be high and calls for women to educate themselves on disease prevention. The study focused on women who have been treated for cardiovascular disease, diabetes or stress urinary incontinence, three conditions that differentially affect women in the United States.

Lifetime incremental medical costs – defined as the costs to treat the conditions and their related, coexisting conditions – for women are $423,000 for cardiovascular disease, $233,000 for diabetes and $58,000 for stress urinary incontinence.

"The findings show that the medical costs for treating women with these three conditions are staggering, and we view these results as prompting a much-needed call-to-action," said Phyllis Greenberger, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Women's Health Research. "The study helps us raise awareness of the need for women to educate themselves about their potential health risks, understand the importance of disease prevention and the need for more research to advance treatments and therapies, as well as prepare themselves financially."

Annual incremental costs

Annual incremental medical costs were also found to be high. The annual incremental medical costs for women up to age 64 being treated for cardiovascular disease, diabetes or stress urinary incontinence are $6,700, $5,550 and $3,300, respectively.

According to published government statistics, medical costs of treating a woman 65 years or older are approximately five times higher than those of a woman age 64 or younger. The annual incremental medical costs for women 65 years and older being treated for cardiovascular disease, diabetes or stress urinary incontinence are $30,700, $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Howard Birnbaum, director of the health economics practice at the Boston-based AnalysisGroup/Economics, which conducted the independent study, said, "The results provide a starting point for policy discussions about the lifetime economic burden of illness for women and the nation. They also provide a good baseline for women to take appropriate action regarding their health and financial security." PR

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