April 20, 2018

Study: The Direct Cost of Epilepsy in Children – Evidence from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2003-2014

INTRODUCTION: Epilepsy is frequent in children and often requires complex healthcare interventions. There is a paucity of recent and detailed healthcare expenditures among children with epilepsy in the United States (US).

METHODS: Data on children (aged ?17years) from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Household Component (MEPS-HC) from 2003 to 2014 were analyzed. Unadjusted overall and specific cost components were compared between children with epilepsy and those without epilepsy. We used a two-part model with gamma distribution and log link for the estimation of independent incremental cost incurred by epilepsy in children. Unadjusted and adjusted mean expenditures and aggregate burden of epilepsy were estimated.

RESULTS: Out of 54,393,387 (weighted) US children, 457,873 (0.84%) had epilepsy. Children with epilepsy had nearly six times higher healthcare expenditure than those without epilepsy ($2024 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1917-2130] vs. $12,577 [95% CI: 7922-17,231]). Unadjusted inpatient expenditure for epilepsy ($4418 [95% CI: 1550-7285) was ten times higher than that for children without epilepsy, representing more than one-third of unadjusted total direct cost. The adjusted difference in medical expenditure between children with and those without epilepsy was $8317 (95% CI: 3701-13,363). The annual unadjusted aggregate cost of epilepsy in children was approximately $5.8 billion. The annual adjusted difference in cost of epilepsy between children with and those without epilepsy was $3.8 billion.

CONCLUSION: Unadjusted and adjusted medical expenditure among children with epilepsy is high. The high expenditure is essentially driven not only by inpatient expenditure but also by home healthcare, outpatient, and medication healthcare expenditures.

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