Objective: To estimate the medical and productivity-related cost burden of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) flares and comorbidities in a commercially insured population.
Methods: Using administrative data, annual medical costs and indirect costs because of work loss were calculated for adult SLE patients, including flare severity and SLE-related comorbidity subsets, and a matched control group without SLE.
Results: Adjusted annualized medical costs were $18,952, $4305, $914, and $441 greater for SLE patients with severe, moderate, mild, and no flares, respectively, during follow-up than those of the matched controls. Medical costs also varied by SLE-related comorbidity. Adjusted annualized indirect costs of work loss because of absence and short-term disability were $1867 and $1602 greater, respectively, for SLE patients than for controls.
Conclusions: SLE imposes a substantial cost burden to both patients and their employers.