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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Medical Specialties & Departments > Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Cost

How Much Does Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Cost?

average costPrescription Medications: $20-$900+high costSurgery: $12,000-$39,000+
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Ulcerative colitis[1] is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulcers to form on the inner lining of the colon and rectum, leading to bleeding and diarrhea. The condition can be debilitating and may even result in life-threatening complications. Though the cause[2] of ulcerative colitis is unknown, it is possible to reduce symptoms or bring about long-term remission with treatment.

Typical costs:

  • Treatment for ulcerative colitis is typically covered by health insurance. For patients with insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of a specialist copay, possibly a hospital copay of $100 or more, and coinsurance of 10%-50% for the procedure, which could reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum.
  • A doctor may prescribe one or more kinds of drugs to control symptoms[3] , including anti-inflammatory medications and immune system suppressors[4] . Medications used to manage ulcerative colitis typically cost $20-$900 or more, depending on the type and dose of drug needed, and whether the medicine is available in generic form. For example, the generic version of the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine[5] costs about $21; a suppository of Canasta[6] , a brand name version of the anti-inflammatory drug mesalamine[7] costs $583; and the immune system suppressor Infliximab (Remicade) costs about $900 for a 100 mg dose.
  • Some patients may need to have a proctocolectomy[8] , surgery in which the colon and rectum are removed, followed by an ileoanal anastomosis[9] , in which a surgeon uses the end of the small intestine to construct a pouch for holding stool. A 2009 National Institutes of Health study[10] found that the mean cost of this type of procedure was $39,309. At Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center [11] in Lincoln, NE, a partial proctocolectomy alone costs $12,364.
Related articles: Colonoscopy, EGD, X-Ray, Massage, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • Ulcerative colitis patients would typically start by first seeing a family doctor or a general practitioner who may then refer them to a gastroenterologist. Diagnostic exams[12] may include blood tests, a colonoscopy or an X-ray of the abdominal area.
  • Medication, whether oral or topical, is typically the first line of treatment. Patients who receive treatment often see symptoms improve after three weeks, with up to 90% going into remission.
  • If lifestyle changes[13] and medication don't relieve symptoms, a surgical procedure may be needed. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases[14] , some 10%-40% of ulcerative colitis patients eventually need a proctocolectomy.
  • Following a proctocolectomy, most patients need to remain in the hospital for 1 to 2 weeks, and full recovery can take 4 to 6 weeks.
Additional costs:
  • According to the Mayo Clinic[15] , because ulcerative colitis can interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients, vitamin and mineral supplements may be needed. Supplements typically cost $5-$25 or more depending on the quantity and whether the patient buys a name brand or its generic equivalent. For example, 125 tablets of Centrum Silver[16] multivitamins cost about $13.
  • Because stress can aggravate symptoms, therapies that help manage negative emotions or reduce anxiety such as massage may help some patients to improve their condition.
  • Outlets such as Costco[17] and Walmart[18] often sell prescription and over-the-counter drugs at significant savings. Walmart, for example, has a prescription drug program[19] that includes certain generic drugs at commonly prescribed dosages.
  • Many hospitals offer discounts of 30% or more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. At St. Joseph Hospital[20] in Orange, CA, for example, patients without health insurance may qualify for a 45% discount off billed charges. They'll also be offered an additional 10% discount if payment is made within 10 days of receiving a bill.
Shopping for ulcerative colitis treatment:
  • The American College of Gastroenterology offers a physician locator[21] .
  • Wolters Kluwer[22] , which publishes health information, offers ulcerative colitis patient resources, including a list[23] of common foods that often trigger symptoms.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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