On the use of survival analysis techniques to estimate medical care costs

Ruth D. Etzioni, Eric J. Feuer, Sean D. Sullivan, Danyu Lin, Chengcheng Hu, Scott D. Ramsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Measurement of treatment costs is important in the evaluation of medical interventions. Accurate cost estimation is problematic, when cost records are incomplete. Methods from the survival analysis literature have been proposed for estimating costs using available data. In this article, we clarify assumptions necessary for validity of these techniques. We demonstrate how assumptions needed for valid survival analysis may be violated when these methods are applied to cost estimation. Our observations are confirmed through simulations and empirical data analysis. We conclude that survival analysis approaches are not generally appropriate for the analysis of medical costs and review several valid alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-380
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Medical interventions
  • Survival analysis techniques
  • Treatment costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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