STDs on the rise: The evidence of claims data

STDs on the rise: The evidence of claims data
Private insurance claim lines for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) rose 76 percent nationally from 2007 to 2018, according to a new study of STDs from FAIR Health, a national, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information. Credit: fairhealth.org

Private insurance claim lines for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) rose 76 percent nationally from 2007 to 2018, according to a new study of STDs from FAIR Health, a national, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information. The study results, which are being released today in the form of an infographic, are based on analysis of data from FAIR Health's comprehensive repository of over 30 billion private healthcare claim records—the largest in the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, the three most commonly reported STDs, reached an all-time high in the United States in 2018. FAIR Health's findings shed new light on this growing public health issue.

Among the results of the FAIR Health study:

  • Claim lines with STD diagnoses, as a percentage of all medical claim lines, increased nationally 76 percent from 2007 to 2018, but the increase was even greater in rural areas—98 percent, compared to 77 percent in urban areas.
  • The four STD diagnoses whose associated claim lines had the greatest percent increase from 2007 to 2018 as a percentage of all medical claim lines were:
    • Mycoplasma genitalium (MG or Mgen)—increased 197 percent;
    • Chlamydia—increased 149 percent;
    • Gonorrhea—increased 126 percent; and
    • Syphilis—increased 80 percent.
  • The age groups most associated with STDs in 2018 varied by the specific disease. The age groups that accounted for the largest share of claim lines were:
    • Age 41-50 for hepatitis B (29 percent);
    • Age 23-30 for chlamydia (38 percent); and
    • Age 31-40 for syphilis (24 percent).
  • From 2007 to 2018, claim lines with gonorrhea diagnoses as a percentage of all medical claim lines by gender increased 326 percent in males compared to 47 percent in females.
  • In individuals over age 60, hepatitis B was the STD that showed the highest percent increase in claim lines from 2007 to 2018, and claim lines for hepatitis B increased more in the over 60 cohort (149 percent) than in any other age group.
  • The age groups with the greatest increase in lines from 2007 to 2018 were:
    • Age 19-22 for chlamydia (90 percent); and
    • Age 23-30 for syphilis (74 percent).

FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd stated: "It is central to FAIR Health's mission to use our vast repository of claims data to research public concerns and support such research by others. We hope this information brings greater clarity to the growing problem of STDs."


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