Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are frequent users of the health care system and are more costly to health maintenance organizations and employers than are individuals without IBS. In a study published in the December 2003 issue of Current Medical Research and Opinion, Bradley C. Martin, PharmD, and his colleagues examined the economic impact of IBS on the Medicaid program and the overall health care use profile of patients with IBS.
The authors reported the results of a retrospective, matched case?control study of 492 California and 2215 North Carolina Medicaid recipients who met the definitive IBS case definition for the trial (ie, 18 years of age and 1 claim relating to irritable colon during 1997). Results demonstrated that the average annual Medicaid expenditures per case of diagnosed IBS were $2952 and $5908 in California and North Carolina, respectively. In both states, patients with IBS incurred greater costs than did controls for physician visits, outpatient hospital visits, and prescription drugs.