Healthcare Costs and Utilization for Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in China: A National Claims Database Study [Editor's Choice]



This study aimed to describe the healthcare resource utilization (HCRU) and healthcare costs associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) management in China from the patient’s and the payer’s perspective.


HCRU and medical costs (2017 US dollar [USD]) between January 1 and December 31, 2017, were extracted from the national medical insurance claims database, China Health Insurance Research Association (consisting of claims from all public health insurance schemes in China), for adults with ≥ 1 SLE-related claim. The main analysis group comprised all adults with an SLE diagnosis and claim during 2017 (overall group); the annual subgroup (SLE diagnosis and claim in January 2017) informed annual HCRU and costs.


The overall group consisted of 3645 adults with ≥ 1 SLE-related claim. Outpatient visits constituted 86.9% of healthcare visits. SLE-related healthcare outpatient costs were USD 433 per outpatient, and inpatient costs were USD 2072 per inpatient. Medication costs accounted for 75.0% (USD 42/56) of total costs for outpatient visits and 44.3% (USD 456/1030) for inpatient hospitalizations. Notably, 35.4% of patients had a severe SLE flare; mean SLE-related cost per severe flare was USD 1616. HCRU and costs were similar in the annual subgroup. Female sex, SLE flares, tertiary hospitals, renal involvement, and utilization of anti-infective drugs were associated with higher SLE-related patient costs.


SLE in China is associated with considerable HCRU and medical costs, especially for patients experiencing severe SLE flares. Preventing organ involvement, infections, flares, and associated hospitalizations may reduce the burden on patients and healthcare providers in China.


Xin He Emily Lloyd Selin Cooper Lei Li Deven Chauhan Patricia Juliao Holly Quasny Chunde Bao

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