Patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) may pay up to $1.7 million in medical costs before reaching an elderly age, according to research published in Blood Advances. The out of pocket (OOP) expenses for care were estimated to be roughly $44,000.

However, it was previously understood the degree to which care costs affected insurers and patients. For this study, researchers evaluated Truven Health Marketscan commercial claims data, as compared with a cohort in the general population, to determine the lifetime medical costs, prior to the age of 65, of care for patients with SCD.

Overall, data from 20,891 patients with SCD and 33,588 matched controls were included. The average age in the SCD vs matched control group was 25.7 vs 24.7 years, respectively, and 55.6% vs 56.2% of individuals were from the South US. The average follow-up in the SCD group was 4.4 years.

Continue Reading

Analysis of data from patients in the SCD group suggested that survival-adjusted costs were highest between 13 and 24 years, with a decline in older ages. From the ages of 0 to 64, SCD-attributable costs were $1.6 million in females and $1.7 million in males — corresponding to OOP costs of $42,395 and $45,091, respectively.

Compared with matched controls, SCD-attributable costs and OOP costs were 907% and 285% higher, respectively.

“Sickle cell disease imposes a substantial burden of medical costs on patients and commercial payers,” the authors wrote. “Emerging curative therapies may provide critical opportunities to reduce the lifetime medical costs attributed to this disease.”


Johnson KM, Jiao B, Ramsey SD, Bender MA, Devine B, Basu A. Lifetime medical costs attributable to sickle cell disease among nonelderly individuals with commercial insurance. Blood Adv. 2023;7(3):365-374. doi:10.1182/bloodadvances.2021006281