The Cost of Gout
As the incidence of gout rises, so do the costs associated with managing the disease – affecting gout sufferers individually and the economy as a whole.
While the economic burden of gout has not been widely researched, there have been studies to estimate workplace productivity loss and individual health care burdens. A 2013 literature review estimated the economic burden of gout at more than $6 billion per year. According to a 2013 study from the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, the University of British Columbia and Boston University, there is a $2,021 annual work productivity loss per gout patient suffering from more than three attacks per year. For those patients that suffer six or more gout attacks per year, direct gout-related health care costs top $12,020.
An additional study in February 2015 reported that elderly and treatment-resistant gout patients could pay $16,925 to $18,362 per person in order to manage their gout.
According to a 2016 study, the rate of hospitalizations for gout doubled from 4.4 to 8.8 per 100,000 from 1993-2011. In the same period, inflation-adjusted annual hospitalization costs for gout rose by 68 percent from $34,457 to $58,003.
Many of these costs can be reduced simply by understanding the cause of gout and seeking immediate treatments for the disease – right at the first attack.
Strategies for Reducing Costs for Gout Sufferers
- If you think you have gout, or are suffering from symptoms of gout, get treatment early.
- Get your uric acid level checked twice a year, with a goal of keeping it below 6 mg/dL.
- Live a healthy gout lifestyle by exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol and foods that are high in purines and fructose.
- Take your medications as prescribed and talk to your health care professional about any problems with them. Often, patients will stop a uric-acid lowering medication because it can initially trigger a gout flare – but this may be the correct long-term therapy to avoid future attacks. Other times, patients will stop medications when they are symptom free. This can also lead to future attacks.