Direct Outpatient Health Care Costs Among Commercially Insured Persons for Common Foodborne Pathogens and Acute Gastroenteritis, 2012–2015
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Direct Outpatient Health Care Costs Among Commercially Insured Persons for Common Foodborne Pathogens and Acute Gastroenteritis, 2012–2015

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  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Foodborne Pathog Dis
    • Description:
      Foodborne illness is common in the United States with most, but not all, foodborne pathogens causing symptoms of acute gastroenteritis (AGI). Outpatient care is the most frequent type of medical care sought; however, more accurate estimates of outpatient costs are needed to inform food safety policy decision. Using the U.S. MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters database, we quantified the per-visit cost of outpatient visits with any AGI-related diagnosis (including pathogen-specific and nonspecific or symptom-based diagnoses) and for those with a pathogen-specific diagnosis for 1 of 29 pathogens commonly transmitted through food (including pathogens that cause AGI and some that do not). Our estimates included the per-case cost of office visits and associated laboratory tests and procedures as well as the conservative estimates of prescription cost. Most AGI outpatient visits were coded using nonspecific codes (e.g., infectious gastroenteritis), rather than pathogen-specific codes (e.g., |). From 2012 to 2015, we identified more than 3.4 million initial outpatient visits with any AGI diagnosis and 45,077 with a foodborne pathogen-specific diagnosis. As is typical of treatment cost data, severe cases of illness drove mean costs above median. The mean cost of an outpatient visit with any AGI was $696 compared with the median of $162. The mean costs of visits with pathogen-specific diagnoses ranged from $254 (median $131; interquartile range [IQR]: $98-184) for | spp. Group A (| = 22,059) to $1761 (median $161; IQR: $104-$1101) for | (| = 30). Visits with two of the most common causes of foodborne illness, nontyphoidal | and norovirus, listed as a diagnosis, had mean costs of $841 and $509, respectively. Overall, the median per-case costs of outpatient visits increased with age, with some variation by pathogen. More empirically based estimates of outpatient costs for AGI and specific pathogens can enhance estimates of the economic cost of foodborne illness used to guide food policy and focus prevention efforts.
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