1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
2Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
3Department of Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
This study aims to evaluate recent annualized trends in the cost-burden of inpatient hospitalizations associated with liver transplantation (LT) in the US as stratified by patient demographics and medical characteristics. From 2016 to 2019 National Inpatient Sample was used to select patients who underwent LT, from which the weighted charge estimates were derived and converted to admission costs using inflation-adjusted charge-to-cost ratios. The adjusted values were stratified using select patient variables and graphed across the respective years to derive goodness-of-fit for each trend (expressed with R2 and p -values). From 2016 to 2019, the estimated total number of LT-related hospitalizations in the US were 6685, 7075, 7260, and 7815 cases respectively. There was a general increase in the total cost of LT-related hospitalizations over the years: $945.75, $1010.23, $1052.46, and $1143.84 in millions of dollars (0.98, 0.01). Furthermore, positive trends in total cost were observed in the following strata: patients aged 35-49 (0.92, 0.04) and above 65 (0.91, 0.05), Whites (0.99, 0.01), those with congestive heart failure (0.98, 0.01), ≥2 comorbidities (0.97, 0.02), hepatic encephalopathy (0.93, 0.04), and those with private insurance (0.93, 0.04), as well as LT performed in the Northeast (0.94, 0.03), Midwest (0.92, 0.04), and South (0.91, 0.04). Total cost associated with hepatitis C declined significantly (0.94, 0.03). With respect to mean costs, positive trends were observed in the following strata: those with other or cryptogenic liver disease (0.93, 0.03), ≥2 comorbidities (0.96, 0.02), and LT performed in the Northeast region (0.93, 0.04). The number of liver transplants performed in the US, as well as the associated costs, are rising. Given the apparent rising costs in specific patient populations, economic and public health policies must focus on cost containment within these groups to ensure appropriate usage of resources.