Acute hepatic porphyria (AHP) is a rare, debilitating disease characterized by potentially life-threatening attacks often resulting in chronic symptoms that negatively impact daily functioning and quality of life. Symptoms of AHP prevent many individuals from working and achieving lifetime work averages. The aim of this study was to apply a public economic framework to evaluate AHP in Belgium, taking into consideration a broad range of costs that are relevant to government in relation to social benefit payments and lifetime taxes paid.
A public economic framework was developed exploring lifetime costs for government attributed to an individual with AHP in Belgium. Work-activity and lifetime direct taxes paid, indirect consumption taxes and requirements for public benefits were estimated based on established clinical pathways for AHP and compared to the general population (GP). The model includes AHP-related healthcare costs and non-AHP healthcare costs for the GP.
Lifetime earnings are reduced in an individual with AHP by €347,802 per person (p.p.), translating to reduced lifetime taxes paid of €183,187 for an AHP individual compared to the GP. We estimate increased lifetime disability benefit support of €247,242 for an AHP individual compared to GP. Lifetime healthcare costs for a person with AHP were estimated to be €3,030,316 due to frequent hospitalisations associated with porphyria attacks compared to the GP. The lifetime costs for a person with 12 attacks per annum factoring in transfers, taxes and healthcare costs are estimated to be €3,460,745 p.p. Eliminating AHP attacks after 10 years of active disease, thus, enabling a person to return to work increases lifetime earnings by €224,575. Increased work activity in this cohort would generate an estimated €118,284 p.p. over their lifetime. The elimination of AHP attacks could also lead to reductions in disability payments of €179,184 p.p. and healthcare cost savings of €1,511,027.
Due to severe disability resulting from constant attacks, AHP patients incur significant public costs. Lifetime taxes paid are reduced as these attacks occur during peak earning and working years. Reducing AHP attacks can confer significant fiscal benefits for government, including reduced healthcare costs, reduced disability payments and improved tax revenue.