Norway has initiated a publicly funded rotavirus immunization program for all age-eligible children in 2014. We aimed to estimate the healthcare costs of rotavirus gastroenteritis in children younger than 5 years old.
We identified all gastroenteritis cases in children younger than 5 years old treated during 2009–2013 through the national claims database for primary care and the national hospital registry. We estimated direct medical costs of rotavirus-associated primary care consultations and hospital encounters (inpatient admission, outpatient visit and ambulatory care). We performed a range of one-way sensitivity analyses to explore uncertainty in the cost estimates.
Before vaccine introduction, the mean healthcare cost of rotavirus gastroenteritis in children younger than 5 years old was €4,440,337 per year. Among rotavirus-associated costs, 92% were hospital costs and the remaining 8% were primary care costs. The mean annual cost of rotavirus-associated hospital encounters was €4,083,691, of which 95% were costs of inpatient hospital admissions. The average healthcare cost of medically attended gastroenteritis in children younger than 5 years old was approximately €8 million per year, of which rotavirus-related costs represented 56%.
Healthcare costs of rotavirus gastroenteritis in Norway are substantial. The cost–effectiveness of ongoing rotavirus immunization program should be reassessed.
From the *University of Oslo, National Evidence-based Health Care Collaborating Agency, Seoul, South Korea; †Department of Vaccines, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway; and ‡Institute of Health and Society, Department of Health Management and Health Economics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
Accepted for publication November 25, 2015.
Funded by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
The Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics, Oslo, Norway approved the study.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Address for correspondence: Elmira Flem, MD, PhD, Department of Vaccines, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, P.O. Box 4404, N-0403 Oslo, Norway. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.