Glioblastoma (GBM) carries a high economic burden for patients and caregivers, much of which is associated with initial surgery. The authors investigated the impact of insurance status on the inpatient hospital costs of surgery for patients with GBM.
The authors conducted a retrospective review of patients with GBM (2010–2015) undergoing their first resection at the University of California, San Francisco, and corresponding inpatient hospital costs.
Of 227 patients with GBM (median age 62 years, 37.9% females), 31 (13.7%) had Medicaid, 94 (41.4%) had Medicare, and 102 (44.9%) had private insurance. Medicaid patients had 30% higher overall hospital costs for surgery compared to non-Medicaid patients ($50,285 vs $38,779, p = 0.01). Medicaid patients had higher intensive care unit (ICU; p < 0.01), operating room (p < 0.03), imaging (p < 0.001), room and board (p < 0001), and pharmacy (p < 0.02) costs versus non-Medicaid patients. Medicaid patients had significantly longer overall and ICU lengths of stay (6.9 and 2.6 days) versus Medicare (4.0 and 1.5 days) and privately insured patients (3.9 and 1.8 days, p < 0.01). Medicaid patients had similar comorbidity rates to Medicare patients (67.8% vs 68.1%), and both groups had higher comorbidity rates than privately insured patients (37.3%, p < 0.0001). Only 67.7% of Medicaid patients had primary care providers (PCPs) versus 91.5% of Medicare and 86.3% of privately insured patients (p = 0.009) at the time of presentation. Tumor diameter at diagnosis was largest for Medicaid (4.7 cm) versus Medicare (4.1 cm) and privately insured patients (4.2 cm, p = 0.03). Preoperative (70 vs 90, p = 0.02) and postoperative (80 vs 90, p = 0.03) Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores were lowest for Medicaid versus non-Medicaid patients, while in subgroup analysis, postoperative KPS score was lowest for Medicaid patients (80, vs 90 for Medicare and 90 for private insurance; p = 0.03). Medicaid patients had significantly shorter median overall survival (10.7 months vs 12.8 months for Medicare and 15.8 months for private insurance; p = 0.02). Quality-adjusted life year (QALY) scores were 0.66 and 1.05 for Medicaid and non-Medicaid patients, respectively (p = 0.036). The incremental cost per QALY was $29,963 lower for the non-Medicaid cohort.
Patients with GBMs and Medicaid have higher surgical costs, longer lengths of stay, poorer survival, and lower QALY scores. This study indicates that these patients lack PCPs, have more comorbidities, and present later in the disease course with larger tumors; these factors may drive the poorer postoperative function and greater consumption of hospital resources that were identified. Given limited resources and rising healthcare costs, factors such as access to PCPs, equitable adjuvant therapy, and early screening/diagnosis of disease need to be improved in order to improve prognosis and reduce hospital costs for patients with GBM.