BACKGROUND: Variation exists in the resource categories included in economic evaluations, and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance suggests the inclusion only of costs related to the index condition or intervention. However, there is a growing consensus that all healthcare costs should be included in economic evaluations for Health Technology Assessments (HTAs), particularly those related to extended years of life.
OBJECTIVE AND METHODS: We aimed to quantify the impact of a range of cost categories on the adoption decision about a hypothetical intervention, and uncertainty around that decision, for stable coronary artery disease (SCAD) based on a dataset comprising 94,966 patients. Three costing scenarios were considered: coronary heart disease (CHD) costs only, cardiovascular disease (CVD) costs and all costs. The first two illustrate different interpretations of what might be regarded as related costs.
RESULTS: Employing a 20-year time horizon, the highest mean expected incremental cost was when all costs were included (£2468) and the lowest when CVD costs only were included (£2377). The probability of the treatment being cost effective, estimating health opportunity costs using a ratio of £30,000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY), was different for each of the CHD (70%) costs, CVD costs (73%) and all costs (56%) scenarios. The results concern a hypothetical intervention and are illustrative only, as such they cannot necessarily be generalised to all interventions and diseases.
CONCLUSIONS: Cost categories included in an economic evaluation of SCAD impact on estimates of both cost effectiveness and decision uncertainty. With an aging and co-morbid population, the inclusion of all healthcare costs may have important ramifications for the selection of healthcare provision on economic grounds.