The Costs of Having Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as atopic eczema or eczema, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. A recent population-based study found that approximately 10.2% of U.S. adults have AD, suggesting that eczema affects many more adults in this country than previously recognized.1 With the prevalence of AD increasing, it is natural to assume the costs of caring for the disease are also increasing. A recent study evaluated the out-of-pocket costs for health care for AD, as well as the burden of the disease related to lost work days, sick days, and productivity. The study evaluated data from the 2010 and 2012 National Health Interview Surveys, which were conducted on 27,157 (2010) and 34,612 (2012) adults aged 18-85 years.1

Out-of-pocket costs

People with AD had $371-$489 higher out-of-pocket costs per year compared to those without eczema. The costs of having AD were higher than those experienced by adults with hypertension ($206-$241) or diabetes ($210-$353).1 This study demonstrates that having AD creates a significant financial cost on an individual. Costs include increased health care utilization (more doctor’s visits), prescription medications, and other skin care products, such as moisturizers that are critical for caring for AD.

The financial impact of other health conditions

While the study revealed that people with AD have higher utilization of health care, the increased utilization is only partially due to AD itself. Having AD puts a person at an increased risk for other conditions, including skin infections, asthma, allergies, and mood disorders like depression and anxiety. These associated conditions also increase a person’s use of health care (doctor’s visits and prescription medications) and their associated costs.

The impact on work

Adults with AD were significantly more likely to have at least 6 lost workdays. They also experienced more half-days of lost work, due to physician visits or other sick time. This cost of AD impacts the individual and also the employer, and this study reveals the impact of AD on society.

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