Distributional consequences of including survivor costs in economic evaluations

Klas Kellerborg*, Werner Brouwer, Matthijs Versteegh, Bram Wouterse, Pieter van Baal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Medical interventions that increase life expectancy of patients result in additional consumption of non-medical goods and services in 'added life years'. This paper focuses on the distributional consequences across socio-economic groups of including these costs in cost effectiveness analysis. In that context, it also highlights the role of remaining quality of life and household economies of scale. Data from a Dutch household spending survey was used to estimate non-medical consumption and household size by age and educational attainment. Estimates of non-medical consumption and household size were combined with life tables to estimate what the impact of including non-medical survivor costs would be on the incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER) of preventing a death at a certain age. Results show that including non-medical survivor costs increases estimated ICERs most strongly when interventions are targeted at the higher educated. Adjusting for household size (lower educated people less often live additional life years in multi-person households) and quality of life (lower educated people on average spend added life years in poorer health) mitigates this difference. Ignoring costs of non-medical consumption in economic evaluations implicitly favors interventions targeted at the higher educated and thus potentially amplifies socio-economic inequalities in health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2606-2613
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Economics (United Kingdom)
Issue number10
Early online date30 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the COMPARE project under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 643476). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Health Economics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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