Compared to those with normal thyroid function, patients with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism use more medical resources and face higher medical costs.

Read this week’s blog to learn more about the costs of these conditions and how our thyroid function testing can increase access to crucial health insights to improve outcomes and control costs.

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What does the thyroid do?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland that produces important hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. It impacts critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid is underactive and doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Symptoms of this condition may include:

  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory problems
  • Muscle aches and stiffness
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Tiredness

Without treatment, an underactive thyroid can lead to complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, goiter, pregnancy problems, and, in rare cases, a life-threatening condition called myxoedema coma.

What is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that causes the thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms of this condition may include:

  • Eye irritation
  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nervousness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vision problems

Without treatment, hyperthyroidism can lead to some serious health problems, including an irregular heartbeat, Graves’ disease, thinning bones, fertility problems in women, and complications in pregnancy.

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The prevalence and impact of thyroid disease

Thyroid disease is very common in the United States. An estimated 20 million people in the United States have some type of thyroid disorder [1]. While more than 12 percent of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime, up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition [2].

The cost of hypothyroidism in the US

There is a substantial economic burden associated with hypothyroidism. Compared to individuals with normal thyroid function, patients with hypothyroidism have significantly higher rates of comorbid conditions, all-cause medical costs, and utilization of medical resources.

A study analyzing the direct and indirect economic burden of hypothyroidism in the US has estimated medical costs related to hypothyroidism range from $460 to $2,555 per patient per year [3]. The same study estimated a total economic burden between $384 million and $2.1 billion annually (based on narrow or broad assessments, respectively).

The indirect costs related to hypothyroidism include significantly higher absenteeism and long- and short-term disability costs but significantly lower worker’s compensation costs. Individuals with hypothyroidism had an additional $171 in absenteeism costs (relative to controls), an average excess cost that is the equivalent of nearly one day (6.7 hours) of lost work time per worker.

The cost of hyperthyroidism in the US

Depending on patient needs, hyperthyroid treatment may include anti-thyroid medicine, beta-blockers, radioiodine therapy, or thyroidectomy. Costs will vary depending on the treatment type, drug therapy and brand, and length of treatment. The cost of hyperthyroid treatment for patients without insurance coverage can range from $10-$150 a month or $120-$1,800 a year for drugs, or up to $4,000 or more for a radioactive iodine treatment or up to $25,000 or more for surgery [4].

How does a thyroid function test work?

LetsGetChecked’s thyroid function test measures key hormones to gain insight into thyroid health, including:

  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) measures your thyroid-stimulating hormone. It stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones, T3 and T4.
  • FT3 (or free T3): measures the amount of triiodothyronine in your blood. This hormone is one of the two main hormones that the thyroid makes.
  • FT4 (or free T4): measures the amount of thyroxine in your blood. Thyroxine is the other main type of hormone that the thyroid makes.

Why is it important for people to understand their thyroid health?

Just because an individual is not showing any signs or symptoms of a thyroid disorder doesn’t mean they don’t have one. Early detection and treatment of asymptomatic persons with abnormal serum TSH levels with or without abnormal T4 levels may be beneficial because it may prevent longer-term morbidity and mortality from fractures, cancer, or cardiovascular disease.

Screening asymptomatic individuals who are most likely to develop thyroid disease and benefit from treatment can help reduce the risk of developing more severe and costly problems. LetsGetChecked’s convenient thyroid function testing solution makes reaching individuals easy and provides them with the health insights and care they need to live healthier, happier lives.

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