The Medical Cost of High Serum Cholesterol in Harris County, Texas

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Abstract of Journal Article -- May 2004  

By David Chenoweth, PhD  

High serum cholesterol levels are common among Texans, especially in the greater Houston metropolitan area (Harris County) where such levels are almost 50% higher than the national norm. By using actual medical care claims and cost data, an analysis was conducted to determine the direct medical care cost of high serum cholesterol tied to selected cardiovascular conditions in Harris County. As part of conducting the analysis, Health Management Associates obtained prevalence rates of Harris County residents with elevated cholesterol levels, actual inpatient cardiovascular claims and costs, and estimated outpatient cardiovascular claims and costs. The financial cost analysis of high cholesterol revealed that more than $25 million was spent alone on selected cardiovascular conditions. This estimate is conservative because it did not factor in all types of cardiovascular claims associated with high serum cholesterol, did not factor in other (noncardiovascular) claims that may be associated with high serum cholesterol, and did not include indirect costs such as absenteeism, lost productivity, and medication costs associated with the selected conditions. As Harris County is home to approximately 1 of every 5 adults in Texas, extrapolating the county's direct costs for high serum cholesterol to the entire state would translate into a direct medical care tab of more than $120 million.


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