UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Geographic variation in the costs of medical care for people living with HIV in British Columbia, Canada Enns, Benjamin; Min, Jeong E.; Panagiotoglou, Dimitra; Montaner, Julio; Nosyk, Bohdan


Background: Regional variation in medical care costs can indicate heterogeneity in clinical practice, inequities in access, or inefficiencies in service delivery. We aimed to estimate regional variation in medical costs for people living with HIV (PLHIV), adjusting for demographics and case-mix. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study using linked health administrative databases of PLHIV, from 2010 to 2014, in British Columbia (BC), Canada. Quarterly health care costs (2018 CAD) were derived from inpatient, outpatient, prescription drugs, antiretroviral therapy (ART), and HIV diagnostics. We used a two-part model with a logit link for the probability of incurring costs, and a log link and gamma distribution for observations with positive costs. We also estimated quarterly utilization rates for hospitalization-, physician billing- and prescription drug-days. Primary variables were indicators of individuals’ Health Service Delivery Area (HSDA). We adjusted cost and utilization estimates for demographic characteristics, HIV-disease progression, and comorbidities. Results: Our cohort included 9577 PLHIV (median age 45.5 years, 80% male). Adjusted total quarterly costs for all 16 HSDAs were within 20% of the provincial mean, 8/16 for hospitalization costs, 16/16 for physician billing costs and 10/16 for prescription drug costs. Northern Interior and Northeast HSDAs had 38 and 44% lower quarterly non-ART prescription drug costs, and 2 and 5% higher quarterly inpatient costs, respectively. Conclusions: We observed limited variation in medical care costs and utilization among PLHIV in BC. However, lower levels of outpatient care and higher levels of inpatient care indicate possible barriers to accessing care among PLHIV in the most rural regions of the province.

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