Healthcare Costs of Not Achieving Remission in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the United States: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Introduction: To compare all-cause and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-related healthcare costs and resource use in patients with RA who do not achieve remission versus those who achieve remission, using clinical practice data.

Methods: Data were derived from Optum electronic health records linked to claims from commercial and Medicare Advantage health plans. Two cohorts were created: remission and non-remission. Remission was defined as Disease Activity Score 28-joint count with the C-reactive protein level or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-CRP/ESR) < 2.6 or Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 (RAPID3 ≤ 3.0). Outcomes were all-cause and RA-related costs and resource use during a 1-year follow-up period. A weighted generalized linear regression and negative binomial regression were used to estimate adjusted annual costs and resource use, respectively, controlling for confounding factors, including patient and socio-demographic characteristics.

Results: Data from 335 patients (remission: 125; non-remission: 210) were analyzed. Annual all-cause total costs were significantly less in the remission versus non-remission cohort ($30,427 vs. $38,645, respectively; cost ratio [CR] = 0.79; 95% CI 0.63, 0.99). All-cause resource use (mean number of visits) was less in the remission versus non-remission cohort: inpatient (0.23 vs. 0.63; visit ratio [VR] = 0.36; 95% CI 0.19, 0.70), emergency department (0.36 vs. 0.77; VR = 0.47; 95% CI 0.30, 0.74), and outpatient visits (20.7 vs. 28.5; VR = 0.73; 95% CI 0.62, 0.86). Annual RA-related total costs were similar in both cohorts; however, RA-related medical costs were numerically lower in the remission versus non-remission cohort ($8,594 vs. $10,002, respectively; CR = 0.86; 95% CI 0.59, 1.25). RA-related resource use was less in the remission versus non-remission cohort.

Conclusions: Significant economic burden was associated with patients who did not achieve remission compared with those who did achieve remission.

Keywords: Clinical practice; Healthcare costs; Remission; Rheumatoid arthritis.