Attributable Costs of Lung Cancer for the Colombian Health System: A Cost-of-Illness Study



Lung cancer imposes a significant economic burden on most countries. Nevertheless, there is scarce information about this burden on health systems in low- and middle-income countries. This study aims to estimate the economic burden of lung cancer on the Colombian health system, a middle-income country with universal health coverage in Latin America.


We conducted a cost-of-illness study that included all direct costs generated by prevalent cases of lung cancer in Colombia during 2017. We used administrative databases containing patient-level information on consumption of healthcare services and reports on healthcare spending published by the Colombian Ministry of Health. To decrease the probability of misallocation of costs, we used propensity score matching to estimate the marginal costs of delivering healthcare services to patients with lung cancer. Additionally, ordinary least squares and variations in case definitions were used to assess the robustness of all estimates.


Total costs attributable to lung cancer in 2017 ranged from $50 039 588 to $74 468 111, with important differences across insurance regimes (from $4 629 938 for the subsidized regime to $55 342 357 for the contributory regime). Notably, 43% of all costs ($27 081 348) were caused by the consumption of services not included in the health benefit package. There were no significant differences between inpatient and outpatient costs.


Lung cancer imposes a significant economic burden on the Colombian health system. Although all affiliates are entitled to a unique health benefit package, there were important differences in costs across insurance regimes. Further research is needed to identify the main mechanisms underlying these differences.


Gabriel F. Torres Javier A. Amaya Giancarlo Buitrago

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