Hip surgeries are likely to become increasingly popular as the U.S. population ages, representing a significant cost burden for the healthcare system, but orthopedic surgeons say the procedure ultimately saves tens of thousands of dollars per patient.
Up-front costs of hip fracture surgery can be steep depending on the location and facility, but the procedure helps keep patients out of the hospital and reduce downstream spending on nursing home care, according to a study backed by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) and published in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research.
Surgery, already the preferred treatment for patients with hip fractures, was found to cost an average of $19,700-$11,300 more than non-surgical treatment up-front, but the procedure helped save between $65,300-$68,000 per patient over a lifetime, researchers reported. Surgical treatment also added an average of 1.9-2.5 quality-adjusted life years for fracture patients.
"Not only is surgery extremely successful in returning hip fracture patients to active, independent living, but the procedure also provides a significant societal benefit and value," study co-author Dr. John Tongue said in prepared remarks. "These are important findings as the nation ages, and as policy makers and payers increasingly focus on the rising costs of health care."
The study examined treatment of displaced intracapsular hip fracture (occurring at the neck or head of the femur) and displaced extracapsular hip fracture (occurring farther down the bone), which annually affect more than 300,000 U.S. adults, most over the age of 65. The injury can lower life expectancy, result in lost work days and rack up some substantial treatment costs, AAOS reported.
Researcher evaluated surgical and non-surgical treatment costs in terms of home modification, long-term nursing care and long-term medical spending.
Specific findings from the study include:
- The average per-patient savings was $65,279 for surgery to correct a displaced intracapsular hip fracture (occurring at the neck or head of the femur), and $67,964 for a displaced extracapsular hip fracture (occurring farther down the bone), when compared to nonsurgical treatment.
- While surgical costs for a displaced intracapsular fracture were estimated to be $19,710 greater than nonoperative treatment, and $22,317 more for an extracapsular fracture, costs for both procedures were offset by savings from lower long-term medical costs: $84,990 for intracapsular fractures and $90,281 for extracapsular fractures.
- The lifetime cost of a hip fracture is estimated at $81,300, of which approximately 44 percent of the costs were associated with nursing facility expenses.
- The lifetime total per-patient societal savings from surgical treatment of hip fractures was estimated at$160,000.
- For the population over age 65 as a whole, the annual total societal savings is estimated at $16 billion.