A study published in BMC Primary Care found that nonhospitalized adults with long-COVID diagnoses and long-term symptoms experienced significant increases in primary care costs in the United Kingdom. The research, led by University of Birmingham researchers, used data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink Aurum primary care database to estimate additional primary care costs of and risk factors for persistent COVID-19 symptoms. The study included 472,173 COVID-19 survivors and an equal number of matched uninfected participants, and used data from January 2020 to April 2021.
The study found that the long-COVID and symptomatic long-COVID subgroups experienced substantial increases in primary care visits, with incremental costs per patient. The study also noted that older age, female sex, obesity, White race, chronic conditions, and more previous consultations were risk factors for increased costs associated with long-COVID.
Phone consultations accounted for over 60% of total costs among all groups and were highest among long-COVID patients. The study authors emphasized that the support of non-hospitalized individuals with long COVID in primary care is likely to be substantial, requiring significant healthcare investment and planning. This highlights the need for increased resources and attention to address the long-term impact of COVID-19 on nonhospitalized individuals.