Patients with rheumatic diseases share similar patterns of healthcare resource utilization.

Healthcare service needs have changed with the use of effective treatment strategies. Using data from the modern era, we aimed to explore and compare health service-related direct costs in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and axial spondyloarthritis (AxSpA).

We linked a longitudinal, population-based clinical data set from Finland’s largest non-university hospital’s rheumatology clinic with an administrative database on health service-related direct costs in 2014. We compared all-cause costs and costs of comorbidities between adult patients with JIA, PsA, RA, and AxSpA (including ankylosing spondylitis). We also characterized patients with high healthcare resource utilization.

Cost distributions were similar between rheumatic diseases (p = 0.88). In adulthood, patients with JIA displayed a similar economic burden to much older patients with other inflammatory rheumatic diseases. A minority were high utilizers: among 119 patients with JIA, 15% utilized as much as the remaining 85%. For PsA (213 patients), RA (1086), and AxSpA (277), the high-utilization proportion was 10%. Both low and high utilizers showed rather low disease activity, but in high utilizers, the patient-reported outcomes were slightly worse, with the most distinct differences in pain levels. Of health service-related direct costs, index rheumatic diseases comprised only one-third (43.6% in JIA) and the majority were comorbidity costs.

Patients with JIA, PsA, RA, and AxSpA share similar patterns of healthcare resource utilization, with substantial comorbidity costs and a minority being high utilizers. Innovations in meeting these patients’ needs are warranted.