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Background: We evaluated the cost of treating neuroischemic ulcers of the lower extremity in patients with peripheral artery disease by using medical and hospital claims records submitted for reimbursement to payers (private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid).
Methods: Adjudicated claims and remittance data on claims that include submitted charges, line items paid by insurers directly to providers and patient payments of copays, deductibles and co-insurance were used. Eligible patients from a commercial database containing more than 60% of US patients with health insurance were analyzed. Patient selection, performed using International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) codes, yielded a study population of 42,837 unique anonymized patients.
Results: Using the metric of “submitted charges” to overcome differences in levels of reimbursement across insurance payers and Medicare/Medicaid, we identified 34,348 patients with ulcers with an average treatment cost of $94,100 per patient ($41,800 annualized) The costliest ulcer subtype was nonpressure ulcer of the heel/midfoot among 13,184 patients with $121,400 per patient ($53,900 annualized), 29% higher than across all ulcer types. The subset of 22,281 ulcer patients who also had a surgical procedure incurred costs of $121,000 per patient ($53,800 annualized). The costliest surgical codes were complications of vascular prosthetic devices, implants, grafts among 6444 patients with $146,900 per patient ($65,300 annualized). The combination of most expensive ulcer and most expensive surgery yielded a cohort of 2355 patients with the highest average cost of $177,400 per patient ($78,800 annualized).
Conclusions: The resource burden for management of neuroischemic ulcers of the lower extremity in patients with peripheral artery disease is substantial. Mitigating this burden may help reduce significant resource utilization.