Overwhelmed by the financial cost of IBD

Often, the path to wellness is not only tough on the body and mind, it is also financially challenging. Medical financial cost burden Families that are working hard to manage medical conditions such as IBD, face grueling schedules of medical appointments, and need to invest more time in food preparations for diet therapies. Parents miss many  workdays, sometimes even changing their jobs, in order to care for their ailing child. Many find the medical and food expenses simply overwhelming.

I will never forget one of the pivotal moments in the first SCD symposium at Seattle Children’s Hospital. A women dear to me spoke up. She is a hard working oncology nurse that is managing, and at times battling, her Crohn’s disease. To illustrate the benefits of her therapeutic diet, she spoke about the financial burden of IBD on her family. She said that despite having a good paying job and a comprehensive health care plan, Crohn’s medications and hospitalizations imposed tremendous monetary expenses that risked the financial stability of her family. As she praised the relief that diet provided, both physically and financially, I could see the attention of all the doctors in the room perk up. Describing the high cost of IBD delivered a penetrating emotional punch, straight to the gut of every medical professional and every SCD expert in the room. While diet therapy was still a new controversial concept, this was something they could understand.

Unfortunately, the cost of IBD is a growing burden, not just on families but also on the global economy, as current studies demonstrate. I have no easy answers to share with struggling families, only an understanding hug and my sympathy. I also have high hopes that new studies on the efficacy of nutrition therapies will help relieve the burden of some of the expenses, since food is cheaper than medication or hospitalization.

While in many cases diet will not completely replace the need for medication, diet is a highly effective therapy and it is still the cheapest way to aid healing and wellness.

These studies on the cost of IBD to individuals and to society are definitely worth reading. Stay tuned for upcoming studies about nutrition therapies.

    • Out-of-pocket Cost Burden in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Cross-sectional Cohort Analysis.
        Previously undocumented, a high proportion of pediatric IBD families incur substantial OOP cost burden. Patients who are frequently in relapsing and uncontrolled IBD states require more acute care services and sustain higher OOP cost burden. Lower middle income parents of children with IBD ineligible for need-based assistance may be particularly at risk for financial stress from OOP costs related to ongoing medical care.


    • The global burden of IBD: from 2015 to 2025.
        Over 1 million residents in the USA and 2.5 million in Europe are estimated to have IBD, with substantial costs for health care. These estimates do not factor in the ‘real’ price of IBD, which can impede career aspirations, instill social stigma and impair quality of life in patients. The majority of patients are diagnosed early in life and the incidence continues to rise; therefore, the effect of IBD on health-care systems will rise exponentially. Moreover, IBD has emerged in newly industrialized countries in Asia, South America and Middle East and has evolved into a global disease with rising prevalence in every continent. Understanding the worldwide epidemiological patterns of IBD will prepare us to manage the burden of IBD over time. The goal of this article is to establish the current epidemiology of IBD in the Western world, contrast it with the increase in IBD in newly industrialized countries and forecast the global effects of IBD in 2025.


  • The burden of inflammatory bowel disease in Europe.
    The incidence and prevalence of IBD have increased in the last few decades throughout Europe. The current estimated prevalence of IBD is approximately 0.3% of the European population with a significant geographic variation ……   

Since IBDs affect mainly young individuals in their early adulthood and impact all aspect of the affected individual’s life they account for substantial direct and indirect costs to both health care system and society…  

The long-term disability rate, economic and social impact of IBD in Europe is enormous. Unfortunately, still app. 20% of the IBD patients in Europe will end up with disability pension and further 10% and 25% have to face unemployment or part time employment problems. In addition sick leave is affecting up to half of the patients and even direct health care costs may be as high as 2–3000€ in average.


  1. It is heartening to learn that perhaps diet is a cost-effective treatment, even though it feels like a financial burden vs standard American diet. I estimate that we spend an “extra” $200-300/month on groceries vs what an average or “cheap” meal plan would cost.

  2. My 6 yr. granddaughter has recently been diagnosed with UC. I want to learn more about diet to help put her in remission.

    • Your granddaughter is fortunate to have such a caring grandmother! We have many posts on Gut harmony, as well as lists, menus and resources, to help you learn more about the diet. Please read the post ‘how to join SCD Families’ and inform the parents. At times we also allow a grandparent to join, if the grandparent participates in caring for the child. Wishing your family healing and wellness.

      • Thank you for your very kind reply. We appreciate all the efforts you have put into SCD Families’ website. I believe the medical world has not acted on investigating the very possible negative impact of food additives as being a big contributor to the rise in ulcerative colitis and general IBD.

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