In the Netherlands, one out of eight COVID-19 patients suffer from long COVID, burdening the health budget with unknown costs. This study investigated the types of healthcare consumed after COVID-19 and the related costs.
Data was delivered from the Dutch Lifelines COVID-19 cohort (N=76503), a subcohort consisting of adult participants from the Lifelines prospective population cohort that completed questionnaires on psychological and societal impacts of the pandemic. Health care use in the past three months was assessed in two waves of questionnaires (June 2021 and March 2022). Frequencies and costs of healthcare provider visits, day-treatment in a hospital or other institution (without stay), emergency visits, outpatient appointments, and homecare received were analyzed. The comparisons were made between a non-COVID-19 (control) group, a COVID-19 group, and a long-COVID group. Referent prices from the Dutch healthcare institute were used to facilitate the cost analyses. All costs were inflated into the 2020 cost year.
The results show that for all types of care, people with long- COVID receive the most care, and uninfected controls the least. In the long-COVID group, from the primary care, the care provided by the general practitioners (49%), and physiotherapist (28%) were the most reported, compared to COVID-19 and non-COVID-group, being 33%, 14% and 16%, 7% respectively. All other care, was used by less than 10% of the long- COVID respondents reported.The highest costs per patient are generated from the various health care provider visits in primary care and outpatient appointments in the secondary care. The total extra healthcare costs per six months per person for COVID-19 and long-COVID compared to the non-COVID-19 group are €59 and €123, respectively.
These findings will inform the health authorities about the necessity for new health-budget allocations. Moreover, they represent a validated data source for future economic evaluations.
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.