The direct medical cost of rheumatoid arthritis in Hong Kong

Vivian W.Y. Lee, Chi Wai Chan, Lok Hang Chan, Tsui Shan Ng, Lai Shan Tam, Edmund K.M. Li, Kenneth K.C. Lee

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder of unknown aetiology. Both treatment and rehabilitation for RA are costly. Knowledge of the cost of management of RA is important for better planning for allocation of medical resources, and the present study aimed to evaluate and describe the direct medical cost of the management of RA from the perspective of a public health organisation in Hong Kong. A retrospective study was performed of RA patients at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. The study cohort consisted of randomly selected RA patients from the 1st January 2002 to the 31st December 2002. Cost items studied included hospital stay, outpatient clinic visits, diagnostic tests, medications, auxiliary care, and cost for management and prophylaxis of side effects induced by the drugs for RA management. A total of 147 patients were included in the study. The average age and duration of disease of the subjects was 54.7 years (standard deviation 10.9 years) and 12.6 years (standard deviation 7.0 years), respectively. The annual direct medical cost per RA patient was HK$18,657 (US$1 = HK$7.8). Inpatient care contributed the highest proportion of the total cost (43.8%). The annual direct medical cost for the management of RA in Hong Kong was HK$443 million, which comprised 1.4% of the total healthcare budget in the year 2002. The cost of RA has an economic impact on the healthcare budget in Hong Kong. Early and more aggressive measures could reduce the need for hospitalisation and hence reduce costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Medical Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Direct medical cost
  • Hong Kong
  • Inpatient cost
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

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