Economic effects of beta-blocker therapy in patients with heart failure.
PURPOSE: Studies suggest that beta-blockers improve outcomes in heart failure patients and may be cost saving to society. However, many heart failure patients are not treated with beta-blockers. Economic incentives facing hospitals, physicians, payers, and patients may not encourage treatment adoption. We assessed the economic effects of beta-blocker therapy from various perspectives: societal, Medicare, hospital, physician, and patient. METHODS: A Markov model of heart failure progression over 5 years was developed. Transition probabilities and the effect of beta-blockers on mortality and hospitalization were based on clinical trial data. Estimates of hospital costs and reimbursement were obtained from the Duke University Medical Center. Physician fees were based on the Medicare fee schedule. RESULTS: Beta-blocker therapy increased survival by 0.3 years per patient and reduced societal costs by US dollars 3959 per patient over 5 years. Medicare costs declined by US dollars 6064 per patient, due primarily to lower hospitalization rates. Unless heart failure admissions could be replaced with other hospitalizations that generated an equal or greater revenue above variable cost, hospital revenue would be negatively affected. Physician revenue from treating heart failure patients would also decline. Patient costs increased with beta-blocker use (US dollars 2113 over 5 years). CONCLUSION: Beta-blocker therapy improves the clinical outcomes of heart failure patients and is cost saving to society and Medicare. However, hospitals and physicians have no clear financial incentives to support increased beta-blocker use. Changes in practice patterns could be encouraged by linking reimbursement with evidence-based care and covering patients' medication costs.
Cowper, PA; DeLong, ER; Whellan, DJ; Allen LaPointe, NM; Califf, RM
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