Knee replacements are determined to be cost-effective
A $20,000 procedure to replace a knee ravaged by arthritis in the elderly is generally a good deal for both patients and the federal Medicare program that pays the bill, according to a new study. In the study, based on a computer model using Medicare claims and other data, total knee replacement provided about one year of better quality of life compared to that experienced by patients who didn't have the procedure, researchers said. The average age of patients whose data were included in the model was 74. The analysis, which appears in the current Archives of Internal Medicine, found that the year of benefit cost about $18,300. Researchers said the amount fell well within the threshold of $50,000 per year of better-quality life generally considered as cost-effective. The findings reflect growing interest in determining the value of big-ticket medical treatments amid efforts by the Obama administration and Congress to contain costs and overhaul the health-care system.
The Wall Street Journal by Laura Yao June 23, 2009