Health care costs for privately insured patients with alcoholic cirrhosis are nearly twice that of non‐alcoholic cirrhosis patients in the United States, according to research presented this week at The Liver Meeting - held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
Alcoholic cirrhosis (scarring of the liver due to heavy alcohol use) is a major cause of liver disease and death in the U.S., and worldwide. Rising rates of alcohol‐use disorders are predicted to lead to further increases, and investigators from U-M recently examined the prevalence, health care utilization and costs for alcoholic cirrhosis.
“My colleagues at Michigan and I began to notice that we were seeing more and more patients in our clinics and in hospital with severe alcoholic liver disease. As a result, we initiated this study to determine if what we were seeing was being found across the nation,” says Jessica Mellinger, MD, clinical lecturer at Michigan Medicine’s Division of Gastroenterology, whose research is supported by a 2016 AASLD Foundation Clinical and Translational Research Award.
Dr. Mellinger’s team collected data spanning 2008 to 2015 on prevalence, admissions and readmissions to health care facilities, and health care costs among people ages 18 to 65 with alcoholic cirrhosis. Yearly prevalence trends for alcoholic and non‐alcoholic cirrhosis were calculated. Using this data, the researchers estimated rates of complications due to portal hypertension (an obstruction of blood flow, and increase of blood pressure, in the liver) and determined the effect alcoholic cirrhosis had on total and per‐person health care costs, as well as admissions and readmissions to hospital.