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Sleep Disorders Can Be Exhausting–And Expensive

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Key Takeaways

  • Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, in U.S. adults are associated with significantly higher rates of health care utilization and expenditures.
  • Sleep disorders were more common among non-Hispanic, White, and female individuals, as well as among those with public insurance and higher Charlson Comorbidity Scores.
  • Health care expenditures also were significantly higher, with the following estimates for incremental direct health care costs associated with sleep disorders per individual in 2018: total health care expense, total office-based expenditures, total prescription expenditures, and total self-expenditures for prescriptions.

HealthDay News–Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, in U.S. adults are associated with significantly higher rates of health care utilization and expenditures, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Phillip Huyett, M.D., and Neil Bhattacharyya, M.D., both from Harvard University in Boston, used data from the 2018 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to identify adults with a diagnosis of a sleep disorder. Comparisons in health care utilization and expenditures were made between those with and without sleep disorders.

The researchers found that about 5.6% of the study population had been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, representing approximately 13.6 million U.S. adults. Sleep disorders were more common among non-Hispanic, White, and female individuals, as well as among those with public insurance and higher Charlson Comorbidity Scores. Compared with those without sleep disorders, adults with sleep disorders had significantly increased utilization of office visits, emergency room visits, and prescriptions. Health care expenditures also were significantly higher, with the following estimates for incremental direct health care costs associated with sleep disorders per individual in 2018: total health care expense ($6975), total office-based expenditures ($1,694), total prescription expenditures ($2574), and total self-expenditures for prescriptions ($195).

“Using the conservative prevalence estimate found in this study, the overall incremental health care costs of sleep disorders in the United States represents approximately $94.9 billion,” the authors write.

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