Introduction: Detailed and up-to-date data on the epidemiology and healthcare costs of Influenza are fundamental for public health decision-making. We analyzed inpatient data on Influenza-associated hospitalizations (IAH), selected complications and risk factors, and their related direct costs for Germany during ten consecutive years.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective cost-of-illness study on patients with laboratory-confirmed IAH (ICD-10-GM code J09/J10 as primary diagnosis) by ICD-10-GM-based remote data query using the Hospital Statistics database of the German Federal Statistical Office. Clinical data and associated direct costs of hospital treatment are presented stratified by demographic and clinical variables.
Results: Between January 2010 to December 2019, 156,097 persons were hospitalized due to laboratory-confirmed Influenza (J09/J10 primary diagnosis). The annual cumulative incidence was low in 2010, 2012 and 2014 (1.3 to 3.1 hospitalizations per 100,000 persons) and high in 2013 and 2015-2019 (12.6 to 60.3). Overall direct per patient hospitalization costs were mean (SD) 3521 EUR (± 8896) and median (IQR) 1805 EUR (1502; 2694), with the highest mean costs in 2010 (mean 8965 EUR ± 26,538) and the lowest costs in 2012 (mean 2588 EUR ± 6153). Mean costs were highest in 60-69 year olds, and in 50-59, 70-79 and 40-49 year olds; they were lowest in 10-19 year olds. Increased costs were associated with conditions such as diabetes (frequency 15.0%; 3.45-fold increase compared to those without diabetes), adiposity (3.3%; 2.09-fold increase) or immune disorders (5.6%; 1.88-fold increase) and with Influenza-associated complications such as Influenza pneumonia (24.3%; 1.95-fold), bacterial pneumonia (6.3%; 3.86-fold), ARDS (1.2%; 10.90-fold increase) or sepsis (2.3%; 8.30-fold). Estimated overall costs reported for the 10-year period were 549.6 Million euros (95% CI 542.7-556.4 million euros).
Conclusion: We found that the economic burden of IAH in Germany is substantial, even when considering solely laboratory-confirmed IAH reported as primary diagnosis. The highest costs were found in the elderly, patients with certain underlying risk factors and patients who required advanced life support treatment, and median and mean costs showed considerable variations between single years. Furthermore, there was a relevant burden of disease in middle-aged adults, who are not covered by the current vaccination recommendations in Germany.