In our increasingly cost-conscious health system, patients, clinicians, hospitals, and payers all agree about the urgent need to rein in runaway healthcare costs. High pharmaceutical costs make drugs unaffordable to many patients who may benefit from them, including some insured patients who face prohibitive out-of-pocket costs. Health systems and payers can use the systematic framework of cost-effectiveness analysis and estimated budgetary impact to prioritize the adoption of new therapies and technologies. In this review article, we discuss basic principles of cost-effectiveness research for practicing clinicians, the concept of cost-effectiveness versus affordability, other considerations relevant to resource allocation, and limitations of cost-effectiveness research. We use the example of lipid lowering therapies to discuss application of cost-effectiveness research in informing health care policy, its use for health care systems and in the development of clinical practice guidelines, and its implications for clinicians and patients. As clinicians and patients become more cognizant of the cost-implications of new therapies, professional societies can help improve the quality of decision-making by incorporating unbiased value statements into their expert guidelines.
- Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio
- Lipid-lowering therapy
- PCSK9 inhibitors