Wang, S. Y., Valero-Elizondo, J., Ali, H. J., Pandey, A., Cainzos-Achirica, M., Krumholz, H. M., Nasir, K., Khera, R.
Background Heart failure (HF) poses a major public health burden in the United States. We examined the burden of out-of-pocket healthcare costs on patients with HF and their families. Methods and Results In the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, we identified all families with ≥1 adult member with HF during 2014 to 2018. Total out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures included yearly care-specific costs and insurance premiums. We evaluated 2 outcomes of financial toxicity: (1) high financial burden-total out-of-pocket healthcare expense to postsubsistence income ratio of >20%, and (2) catastrophic financial burden with the ratio of >40%-a bankrupting expense defined by the World Health Organization. There were 788 families in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey with a member with HF representing 0.54% (95% CI, 0.48%-0.60%) of all families nationally. The overall mean annual out-of-pocket healthcare expenses were $4423 (95% CI, $3908-$4939), with medications and health insurance premiums representing the largest categories of cost. Overall, 14% (95% CI, 11%-18%) of families experienced a high burden and 5% (95% CI, 3%-6%) experienced a catastrophic burden. Among the two-fifths of families considered low income, 24% (95% CI, 18%-30%) experienced a high financial burden, whereas 10% (95% CI, 6%-14%) experienced a catastrophic burden. Low-income families had 4-fold greater risk-adjusted odds of high financial burden (odds ratio [OR] , 3.9; 95% CI, 2.3-6.6), and 14-fold greater risk-adjusted odds of catastrophic financial burden (OR, 14.2; 95% CI, 5.1-39.5) compared with middle/high-income families. Conclusions Patients with HF and their families experience large out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. A large proportion encounter financial toxicity, with a disproportionate effect on low-income families.