Comparing the Fiscal Consequences of Controlled and Uncontrolled Osteoarthritis Pain Applying a UK Public Economic Perspective

Rui Martins, Nikos Kotsopoulos, Melodi Kosaner Kließ, Craig Beck, Lucy Abraham, Samuel Large, Patricia Schepman, Mark P. Connolly*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Background: Individuals experiencing osteoarthritis (OA) pain can pose significant costs for governments due to reduced work activity in these individuals and increasing reliance on public support benefits. In this analysis we capture the broader economic impact of OA pain by applying a government perspective, public economic framework to assess controlled and uncontrolled pain.

    Methods: We used a Markov model to compare labour market participation in people with uncontrolled OA hip or knee pain compared to a cohort with controlled OA pain. The likelihood of employment, long-term sickness, disability, and early retirement in those with controlled pain used publicly available UK data. The relative effect of uncontrolled OA pain on fiscal outcomes is drawn from peer reviewed publications reporting reduced work activity and reliance on public benefits for people with uncontrolled OA pain. Lost tax revenue was derived using UK tax rates and national insurance contributions applied to annual earnings. Social benefit rules were applied to calculate government financial support to individuals. Health-care costs were calculated based on estimates from an UK observational study. The base case analysis compared the projected lost tax revenue and transfer payments for a 50-year-old cohort with severe OA pain, retiring at age 65.

    Results: For a 50-year-old individual with moderate uncontrolled OA pain with 15-years remaining work expectancy, the model estimated a £62 383 reduction in employment earnings, a £24 307 reduction in tax contributions and a need for £16 034 in government benefits, compared to a person with controlled OA pain. In people with severe uncontrolled OA pain incremental foregone earnings were estimated to be £126 384, £44 925 were not paid through taxation and £25 829 were received in public benefits, compared to the controlled pain cohort. Health-care costs represented 13% and 12% of all OA-related fiscal cost in the moderate uncontrolled OA pain and severe uncontrolled OA pain comparison, respectively.

    Conclusions: For governments, maintaining an active workforce is paramount to maintaining economic growth and reducing spending on government programs. The approach described here can be used to augment cost-effectiveness models to inform a range of stakeholders of benefits attributed to controlled OA pain.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-136
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Health Economics and Outcomes Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 28-Jun-2021


    • Controlled pain
    • Economic evaluation
    • Fiscal analysis
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Osteoarthritis pain
    • Public economics

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