Changes in COPD Demographics and Costs Over 20 Years

RUHRC Authors: Blanchette, C
Publication Date: 12/01/2012
Full Publication: Changes in COPD Demographics and Costs Over 20 Years


Objective: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is now the third leading cause of death in the US and responsible for significant healthcare resource use. The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in COPD costs over 20 years and assess total direct cost trends over the last 10.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of a population-based survey (2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey compared to the 1987 National Medical Expenditures Panel Survey) of respondents aged 40 and older with COPD (ICD-9-CM codes 491.xx, 492.xx, or 496.xx) was assessed for demographic and healthcare services use characteristics and compared to reported statistics from 1987. Ten-year trends in total direct medical costs from 1997–2007 are presented.

Results: In 2007, there were 416 survey respondents with COPD compared to 228 in 1987. In 1987, women were only 39% of the COPD sample, while in 2007 they made up 58% of the sample. Mean cost per COPD patient was $16,135 (2007 dollars) in 2007, which was up from $11,807 (2007 dollars) in 1987 or a 37% increase. The proportional cost of emergency department visits (183%) and prescription drugs (170%) from 1987–2007 was high compared to other healthcare services. However, the mean cost of a hospitalization was the highest actual increase ($2289). Ten-year trends show a similar gradual increase.

Conclusions: The prevalence of COPD among females as well as the mean cost per COPD patient has risen sharply over the last 20 years. Cost-shifting from acute services to preventive services may allow US payers and healthcare providers to improve care and better manage costs for patients with COPD. More attention on prevention, diagnosis, and management needs to be directed to women at risk of COPD.

Suggested Citation

Blanchette CM, Dalal AA, Mapel D. Changes in COPD Demographics and Costs Over 20 Years. J Med Econ. 2012;15(6):1176-1182.