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.