Americans living with both PsA and psoriasis spend, on average, around $7,000 more per year on health care costs, compared to those with psoriasis alone, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Managed Care. Those increased costs come from requiring more doctor visits and pricier medications.
In the study — titled Economic Burden of Joint Disease in Psoriasis: U.S. Claims Analysis — researchers called on doctors to be more mindful of PsA symptoms when treating people with psoriasis. “Early diagnosis and treatment of joint symptoms in patients with psoriasis are crucial to improve patient outcomes and potentially reduce the economic burden on the health care system,” they wrote.
In order to study how PsA affected people living with the condition, researchers reviewed electronic health records and claims spanning 2007 to 2018. They collected information from 4,418 people with psoriasis and 4,418 people with psoriasis plus PsA.
Among their findings, researchers found that people with PsA visited the doctor more often: On average, people with both psoriasis and PsA had an average of 45.3 outpatient visits, whereas those with psoriasis alone had an average of 31.2 visits. About 2.7 percent of people with psoriasis alone visited a rheumatologist, compared to 40.6 percent of people with PsA. Additionally, among people with psoriasis, 43.8 percent visited a dermatologist, compared to 51.2 percent of those with PsA.
Additionally, those with both PsA and psoriasis spent more money on health care. People with psoriasis alone spent $14,546 to $15,800 per year on health care costs, while people with both conditions spent $21,581 to $22,868.
Having PsA also led to higher pharmacy costs. People with PsA more often used medications like methotrexate and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They also used biologics significantly more than people without PsA. (Notably, a recent study found that treating psoriasis with biologics may reduce risks of developing PsA.) Additionally, people with PsA often need to spend more money on medications because they have more severe skin and joint symptoms.
People with PsA might need to see a doctor more often because they are more likely to experience comorbidities — two or more diseases or conditions that occur at the same time. Treating these additional conditions may also increase health care expenses. In the study, the most common comorbidities for those with psoriasis and PsA were hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, and hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).
Researchers urged doctors treating people with psoriasis to watch for signs of PsA. Detecting the condition early can improve health outcomes and reduce expenses. “Given the high risk of joint disease in patients with [psoriasis] … it is important for dermatologists and rheumatologists to be aware of symptoms and treatment strategies for both conditions,” they wrote. “Regular monitoring by dermatologists of patients for joint involvement could reduce diagnostic delay, slow disease progression, and reduce the burden on the health care system and patients.”