NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Is Screening for Kidney Disease Cost-Effective?

January 14, 2004

Early identification and treatment of patients who are more likely to progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in order to decrease mortality, morbidity and costs has been debated. But while screening for early identification of kidney disease could improve health, screening could also lead to unnecessary harm and excess costs, say researchers.

Assessing the cost-effectiveness of screening versus no screening, researchers have found:

  • For patients with neither hypertension nor diabetes, screening was not cost-effective unless the patient was above 60 years old.
  • For patients with hypertension, annual screening beginning at age 30 years was more cost-effective when compared with the no screening strategy.

Thus, selective annual testing focusing on high-risk groups is highly cost-effective. But for the majority of the U.S. population, without hypertension or diabetes, annual screening to detect proteinuria (excessive protein in the urine) is not cost effective.

Source: L. Ebony Boulware et al., "Screening for Proteinuria in US Adults: A Cost-effective Analysis," Journal of the American Medical Association, December 17, 2003.


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