Eczema in adults is more than an uncomfortable, itchy disease. It’s also a financial burden for the estimated 10.2% of U.S. adults who have atopic dermatitis, according to a new study.
Adults with eczema incur more out-of-pocket healthcare costs, lose more workdays, have poorer overall health and higher healthcare utilization, and experience impaired access to care when compared to adults without eczema, according to the study published online March 4, 2015 in JAMA Dermatology.
Study author Jonathan I. Silverberg, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., who directs the Northwestern Medicine Eczema Center and the Contact Dermatitis Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, analyzed data from two population-based studies between 2010 and 2012, which surveyed a total of nearly 62,000 adults.
He found that adults with eczema had $371 to $489 higher out-of-pocket costs per person-year than adults without eczema.
Adults with eczema were an average 53% more likely than those without eczema to miss at least six workdays due to illness from all causes. They had more than three times the odds of visiting a physician 10 or more times a year, and were 81 more likely than eczema-free adults to have 10 or more urgent or emergency care visits annually. Adults with eczema had 37% higher odds of being hospitalized.
The researcher also found that adults with eczema had significantly lower odds than those without eczema to be able to afford prescription medications, to get timely healthcare appointments or even to obtain the needed care due to cost concerns.
“As dermatologists, we need to be cognizant of patients' out-of-pocket costs when recommending treatments,” Dr. Silverberg writes in an email to Dermatology Times. “Also, patients with eczema are more likely to have difficulties and delays accessing care. Our current standard of care involves treating flares as they occur, which may not be sufficient in patients with chronic disease or frequent flares. If patients are not able to get in to see us in time, they will end up having delayed treatment and prolonged disease activity. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on better approaches to prevent flares, as well as safely and effectively treat chronic disease. We need to educate patients about strategies to prevent eczema flares, such as regular use of emollients and proactive use of topical steroids. Further, more treatment options are needed that can safely and effectively treat chronic eczema.”
Silverberg JI. Healthcare Utilization, Patient Costs, and Access to Care in US Adults With Eczema: A Population-Based Study. JAMA Dermatol. 2015; Online First