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Cost of chickenpox

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    The incidence of chickenpox is said to be approximately equal to the number of births. Over 95% of cases are in children under 15 with the highest incidence in the 5–9 year age range. Details of the financial cost of the disease have been reported from Canada.  In two papers (Barbara Law and colleagues.Pediatrics1999;104:1–6 and 7–14) costs are calculated from studies of 179 otherwise healthy 1–9 year olds with uncomplicated chickenpox treated at home, 160 otherwise healthy children with complicated (treated in hospital) chickenpox, and 40 children with leukaemia admitted to hospital with chickenpox. For uncomplicated cases the total cost to society per case was estimated at around CDN$370 for younger children and CDN$240 for children aged 5–9. Medical costs were about 10% of the total. The total national cost was estimated at CDN$110 million annually.  For children admitted to hospital the total cost to society per case was around CDN$8000 for otherwise healthy children and for children with leukaemia the medical cost of an admission with chickenpox was over CDN$7000. This brought the estimated total national cost of chickenpox to CDN$122 million, with CDN$24 million of that cost being borne by the health ministry. Added to that there were considerable quality of life costs for children and parents. In the USA it has been calculated that vaccination against chickenpox would result in a total saving to society of US$66 per child vaccinated. (CDN$1 approximately US$0.68.)

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