Purpose: Cost analyses of tuberculosis (TB) in the United States have not included elements that may be prevented if TB were prevented, such as losses associated with TB-related disability, personal and other costs to society. Unmeasured TB costs lead to underestimates of the benefit of prevention and create conditions that could result in a resurgence of TB. We gathered data from Tarrant County, Texas, for 2002, to estimate the societal cost due to TB. Methods: We estimated societal costs due to the presence or suspicion of TB using known variable and fixed costs incurred to all parties. These include costs for infrastructure; diagnostics and surveillance; inpatient and outpatient treatment of active, suspected, and latent TB infection (LTBI); epidemiologic activities; personal costs borne by patients and by others for lost time, disability, and death; and the cost of secondary transmission. A discount rate of 3% was used. Results: During 2002, 108 TB cases were confirmed in Tarrant County, costing an estimated $40,574,953. The average societal cost per TB illness was $ 376,255. Secondary transmission created 47% and pulmonary impairment after TB created 35.4% of the total societal cost per illness. Conclusions: Prior estimates have concluded that treatment costs constitute most (86%) TB-related expenditures. From a societal perspective treatment and other direct costs account for little (3.3%) of the full burden. These data predict that preventing infection through earlier TB diagnosis and treatment of LTBI and expanding treatment of LTBI may be the most feasible strategies to reduce the cost of TB.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/peter-hilsenrath/235/