Objectives: To estimate the medical- and productivity-related cost burden of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and SLE with nephritis in an employee population.
Methods: Using administrative data, annual costs were calculated for SLE patients, a subset with nephritis, and a matched control group of patients without SLE. These costs were compared with the cost of other chronic conditions.
Results: Mean annual medical expenditures and short term disability costs for SLE patients were $12,238 and $1184 greater (2005 dollars), respectively, than those of controls. Mean medical expenditures for SLE/nephritis patients were $46,862 greater than for controls. When compared with other chronic health conditions faced by employees, SLE/nephritis was the most costly condition.
Conclusions: SLE, particularly with nephritis, is associated with substantial costs. Therapies that can better manage SLE may provide opportunities for savings to employers.