Early Diagnosis of Celiac Disease Reduces Health Spending

Recognizing and treating celiac disease can help reduce the economic impact of healthcare costs, according to an analysis from members of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center.

Responding to the findings, Peter Green, M.D., professor of Clinical Medicine and Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center says, “We now have evidence that the increased awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease would benefit not only the patients but would result in health care costs savings. There needs to be greater physician education in the various modes of presentation and manifestations of celiac disease and more use of the widely available screening blood tests that detect the disease."

Dr. Green is an expert on celiac disease. According to a 2004 report from Green, celiac disease is common in the United States. Dr. Green’s mission has been continued research involving celiac disease, as well as a focus on increased awareness and education about the underecognized symptoms and diagnosis of celiac disease.

Celiac disease is often unrecognized, and leads to multiple complications including anemia, osteoporosis, and other autoimmune disorders. Celiac disease affects approximately one percent of the population, but it may take years before celiac disease is diagnosed, and in many instances, a diagnosis is never made.

Celiac disease develops in individuals with a genetic susceptibility to gluten sensitivity from foods. The resulting ill effects send those who suffer to the physician on a regular basis for blood tests and other procedures that increase money spent on healthcare.

The new study, published in the Journal of Insurance Medicine, suggests that physician awareness of the management of celiac disease can reduce healthcare spending, providing benefits to patients and reducing costs for managed care insurance providers.

Journal of Insurance Medicine, 2008;40:218-228