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Characteristics and healthcare utilisation patterns of high-cost beneficiaries in the Netherlands: a cross-sectional claims database study

13 Nov 2017

Objective

To determine medical needs, demographic characteristics and healthcare utilisation patterns of the top 1% and top 2%–5% high-cost beneficiaries in the Netherlands.

Design

Cross-sectional study using 1 year claims data. We broke down high-cost beneficiaries by demographics, the most cost-incurring condition per beneficiary and expensive treatment use.

Setting

Dutch curative health system, a health system with universal coverage.

Participants

4.5 million beneficiaries of one health insurer.

Measures

Annual total costs through hospital, intensive care unit use, expensive drugs, other pharmaceuticals, mental care and others; demographics; most cost-incurring and secondary conditions; inpatient stay; number of morbidities; costs per ICD10-chapter (International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 10th revision); and expensive treatment use (including dialysis, transplant surgery, expensive drugs, intensive care unit and diagnosis-related groups >30 000).

Results

The top 1% and top 2%–5% beneficiaries accounted for 23% and 26% of total expenditures, respectively. Among top 1% beneficiaries, hospital care represented 76% of spending, of which, respectively, 9.0% and 9.1% were spent on expensive drugs and ICU care. We found that 54% of top 1% beneficiaries were aged 65 years or younger and that average costs sharply decreased with higher age within the top 1% group. Expensive treatments contributed to high costs in one-third of top 1% beneficiaries and in less than 10% of top 2%–5% beneficiaries. The average number of conditions was 5.5 and 4.0 for top 1% and top 2%–5% beneficiaries, respectively. 53% of top 1% beneficiaries were treated for circulatory disorders but for only 22% of top 1% beneficiaries this was their most cost-incurring condition.

Conclusions

Expensive treatments, most cost-incurring condition and age proved to be informative variables for studying this heterogeneous population. Expensive treatments play a substantial role in high-costs beneficiaries. Interventions need to be aimed at beneficiaries of all ages; a sole focus on the elderly would leave many high-cost beneficiaries unaddressed. Tailored interventions are needed to meet the needs of high-cost beneficiaries and to avoid waste of scarce resources.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open