Cost Comparison of Peritoneal Dialysis Versus Hemodialysis in End-Stage Renal Disease
Published Online: August 07, 2009
Ariel Berger, MPH; John Edelsberg, MD, MPH; Gary W. Inglese, RN, MBA; Samir K. Bhattacharyya, PhD; and Gerry Oster, PhD
Hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD) are the main dialysis modalities for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Hemodialysis is typically performed 3 times weekly at a dialysis center, with each treatment taking 3 to 5 hours1; nocturnal HD and short daily home HD are also available.2 In contrast, PD uses the lining of the abdomen (the peritoneal membrane) instead of a dialyzer to filter the blood. The abdomen is filled with dialysis solution (a combination of minerals and sugar designed to draw wastes and excess fluids from the body into the solution) and is then drained several hours later (a process known as “exchange”). There are 3 different types of PD: continuous ambulatory PD (CAPD), automated PD (APD), and combination CAPD and APD.1 In CAPD, patients undergo the exchange process usually 4 to 5 times during a 24-hour period; no machine is required. In APD, the patient uses an automated cycler to perform 3 to 5 exchanges during the night while sleeping (the abdomen remains filled with dialysis solution throughout the day).3
In the United States, the cost of dialysis is largely borne by the Medicare ESRD system, which accepts all patients previously enrolled in Medicare on initiation of dialysis (principally, persons ≥65 years) and those otherwise not eligible for Medicare benefits after they have received a minimum of 3 months of dialysis (for these latter patients, there is an additional 30-month “coordination of benefits” period during which Medicare remains the secondary payer, while the private insurer is the primary payer).4 Persons 65 years or older who are still working or who have a spouse who is still working also may have their costs borne (in part or in full) by private health insurers. It has been estimated that 25% of all patients with ESRD beginning HD and 37% of all such patients beginning PD are privately insured.5
There is a wealth of information about healthcare utilization and costs among patients with ESRD who are insured through the Medicare program. Comparatively little is known about the use and cost of healthcare services among patients with ESRD who are privately insured and, in particular, those beginning treatment with PD versus HD.
Data were obtained from the Phar-Metrics Patient-Centric Database, which is composed of facility, profes-sional service, and retail (ie, outpatient) pharmacy claims from more than 85 US health plans (PharMetrics, Watertown, MA). The plans provide healthcare coverage to approximately 14 million persons annually throughout the United States (35% in the Midwest, 21% in the Northeast, 31% in the South, and 13% in the West). All patient identifiers in the database are fully encrypted, and the database is fully compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Information available for each facility and professional service claim includes the date and place of service, diagnoses (in International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM] format), procedures (in ICD-9-CM [selected plans only] and Health Care Financing Administration Common Procedural Coding System formats), provider specialty, and charged and paid amounts. Data available for each retail pharmacy claim include the drug dispensed (in National Drug Code format), dispensing date, and quantity dispensed and number of days of therapy supplied (selected plans only). All claims include a charged amount; the database also provides the paid amounts (ie, total reimbursed, including patient deductible, copayment, and coinsurance).
Selected demographic and eligibility information is also available, including age, sex, geographic region, coverage type, and the dates of insurance coverage. All patient-level data can be arrayed chronologically to provide a detailed longitudinal profile of all medical and pharmacy services used by each insured person. Because this study was retrospective in nature, used completely anonymized data, and did not involve patient contact, institutional review board approval was neither required nor sought.
Using the PharMetrics database, we identified all patients with 1 or more medical encounters for PD or HD between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2006 (“study period”), irrespective of whether they had any claims with a diagnosis of renal failure (ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes 403.X1, 404.X2, 404.X3, 585, 585.X, and 586) (additional criteria, listed herein, were used to exclude patients receiving dialysis for reasons other than ESRD). For each such patient, we then identified the first-noted claim for dialysis (either PD or HD) during the study period; the date of this claim was designated the “index date,” and patients were stratified into 2 groups (“PD patients” or “HD patients”) based on the treatment received on this date. All patients were required to be continuously enrolled for 6 months before their index date (“pretreatment”) and for 12 months after this
date (“follow-up”). Identification of patients who received PD versus HD was based on algorithms developed by us (eAppendix A and eAppendix B available at www.ajmc.com). Patients with claims for both PD and HD on their index date were excluded, as were patients enrolled in a Medicaid program and those 65 years or older who were enrolled in Medicare supplemental or capitated plans (because of incomplete claims histories). Additional exclusion criteria were taken from prior studies6-8 that identified patients receiving dialysis based on electronic claims databases and included the following: (1) any claims encounters with dialysis-related codes (ie, diagnostic, procedural, or equipment) during the pretreatment period, (2) less than 3 months of continuous enrollment following the index date, (3) evidence of initiation of dialysis for reasons other than ESRD (eg, because of trauma), and (4) patients who underwent renal transplantation during the first month of follow-up.
PDF is available on the last page.