Cost-effectiveness of Compression Therapy With Early Endovenous Ablation in Venous Ulceration for a Medicare Population
Importance: Venous leg ulcers (VLU) are the most common cause of lower extremity ulceration that commonly occur among older individuals and are characterized by a slow healing trajectory and frequent recurrence; in the United States, VLUs affect more than 600 000 people per year with an estimated cost of $3.5 billion. Clinical trial data show that early intervention with endovenous ablation substantially improves the healing rate and reduces recurrence among patients with VLUs, but there is a need to assess the cost-effectiveness of early endovenous ablation in the US context.
Objectives: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of early endovenous ablation of superficial venous reflux in patients with VLU from the US Medicare perspective.
Design, setting, and participants: This economic evaluation used a Markov model to simulate the disease progression of VLU for patients receiving compression therapy with early vs deferred ablation over 3 years. The simulated cohort included patients with VLU aged 65 years and older who had clinical characteristics similar to those in the randomized Early Venous Reflux Ablation trial in the United Kingdom. Data were analyzed from September 2021 to June 2022.
Main outcomes and measures: Direct medical costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and the incremental monetary benefits at a willingness-to-pay threshold of $100 000/QALY. Univariate and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to test uncertainty of model results.
Results: This model used a simulated cohort of patients with VLU aged 65 years and older enrolled in Medicare. Early ablation dominated, with a lower per-patient cost of $12 527 and an increase of 2.011 QALYs, whereas compression therapy with deferred ablation yielded a per-patient cost of $15 208 and 1.985 QALYs gained. At a $100 000/QALY cost-effectiveness threshold, the incremental net monetary benefit was $5226 per patient in favor of early ablation. Probability of healing, followed by the probability of recurrence, was the parameter with greatest impact on model uncertainty. The probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed that early ablation was cost-effective in 59.2% of simulations at the $100 000/QALY threshold.
Conclusions and relevance: In this economic evaluation of compression therapy with early endovenous ablation, early intervention was dominant, as it was cost saving and generated greater QALYs over 3 years from the US Medicare perspective. Payers should prioritize coverage for early ablation to prevent VLU complications rather than treat a costly outcome that also reduces patient well-being.