Lyme disease diagnoses in the United States have increased 357% in rural areas and 65% in urban areas in recent years, according to a study based on insurance claims data.
The researchers utilized a database of over 36 billion privately billed health care claims to examine trends in Lyme disease diagnoses from 2007 to 2021.
The researchers found key differences between rural and urban areas when looking at the percentage of people who were diagnosed with Lyme disease. From 2016 to 2021, diagnoses increased by 60% in rural areas and by 19% in urban areas when compared with the previous years’ data. Additionally, rural areas had a larger rate of claims during the summer months, with the peak incidence of the diagnoses occurring in June and July of each year. From November to April, Lyme disease diagnoses occurred more frequently in urban areas.
Generally, states in the Northeast part of the United States had the greatest proportion of Lyme disease cases in 2021. New Jersey, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were listed as the top states. Maine was the only state not listed among the top states in 2017 (North Carolina was previously listed), which suggests a growing presence of the disease in that state.
Furthermore, the researchers identified later diagnoses associated with Lyme disease by examining a statistically significant cohort of patients from 2017 to 2021. The analysis found that, across all age groups, patients with Lyme disease were likely to develop long-term symptoms (fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and cognitive issues).
Thank “Lyme disease remains a growing public health concern,” Robin Gelburd, president of FAIR Health, a national nonprofit organization that reports on health care costs and coverage, said in a press release. “FAIR Health will continue to use its repository of claims data to provide actionable and relevant insights to health care stakeholders seeking to better understand the ongoing rise of Lyme disease cases.”
Lyme disease diagnoses increased 357 percent in rural areas over past 15 years, according to private insurance claims. News release. Fair Health; August 02, 2022. Accessed August 17, 2022. www.fairhealth.org/press-release/lyme-disease-diagnoses-increased-357-percent-in-rural-areas-over-past-15-years-according-to-private-insurance-claims