Cost-of-Illness Studies: A Primer
Cost-of-illness studies measure the economic burden of a disease or diseases and estimate the maximum amount that could potentially be saved or gained if a disease were to be eradicated. Numerous cost-of-illness studies have been conducted over the past 30 years. Many of these studies have been instrumental in public health policy debates because they highlight the magnitude of the impact of an illness on society or a part of society. Knowledge of the costs of an illness can help policy makers to decide which diseases need to be addressed first by health care and prevention policy. Additionally, these studies can indicate for which diseases cures would be valuable in reducing the burden of disease. For specific stakeholders, such as the federal government, cost-of-illness studies can show the financial impact a disease has on public programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. For employers, they can show which diseases have an especially large effect on their costs. Moreover, cost-of-illness studies provide important information for cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses. Although only one part of cost analysis, cost-of-illness studies can provide a framework for the cost estimation in these analyses.