AIDS-care costs may hit $10.4 billion, study says Health agency sees a 21%-a-year increase in treatment costs by 1994.

October 29, 1991|By Sue Miller | Sue Miller,Evening Sun Staff

The annual cost of treating everyone in the United States infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS may reach $10.4 billion by 1994, according to estimates by a new arm of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Findings of the first study to assess the medical costs of treating all persons with HIV -- those who have the lethal, full-blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and those who have the virus but not the disease -- are reported in the October issue of the journal Inquiry.

People with AIDS account for two-thirds of the estimate, while those who have the virus but not the disease make up the balance, the study reports.

The author, Fred J. Hellinger, Ph.D., of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research in Rockville, calculates that the cost of treating people with HIV in 1991 will be $5.8 billion and that it will increase by an average of 21 percent a year between 1991 and 1994.

All the estimates are in 1990 dollars, the study said.

Costs are borne mostly by Medicaid, private insurers and people who cover their own medical bills and include hospital costs, physician's fees, drug costs and other medical expenses, the report says.

The study also estimates that it costs an average of $32,000 to treat a person with AIDS during any calendar year and an average of $85,333 between the time AIDS is diagnosed and when the patient dies.

The lifetime average cost is higher than earlier estimates, the study says, because people afflicted with the disease are surviving longer and because of the availability of new and costlier outpatient drugs. The estimated yearly cost of treating a person with HIV, but not AIDS, is $5,150, the report says.

the 3,871 Marylanders who have been struck by AIDS since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in January 1981, 1,422 were still living as of Sept. 30, according to the AIDS Administration of the state health department.

And, of the nearly 200,000 Americans who have been afflicted by the disease since 1981, about 70,000 are alive, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

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