Medical Nutrition Therapy

MNT: Cost Effectiveness, Cost-benefit, or Economic Savings of MNT (2009)


MNT Cost-Effectiveness

Health care economics and terminology

Economic analyses, including cost utility, cost effectiveness and cost benefit analyses, evaluate which program or intervention has the greatest effect at the lowest cost. Costs of the intervention are described in monetary terms. Effects or benefits of the intervention can be expressed as either costs (as in cost-benefit analysis) or as health outcomes, such as cases of a disease prevented, years of life gained, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), or changes in intermediate outcomes (e.g. mg/dL). The variety of ways that cost studies present their outcomes makes it a challenge to compare studies. Economic studies derived from clinical trial data are stronger than model-based analyses, but models can help with economic predicting when trial data are not available. Cost analyses vary by the perspective (i.e., societal, health system) which determines of what type of costs (i.e., direct, indirect, cost to patient) are included in the analysis.

While no standard definition exists for the evaluation of interventions, it has been suggested that interventions which cost less than $20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) are appropriate ways to use resources, those that cost $20,000-$100,000 per QALY are probably appropriate, and those that cost more than $100,000 per QALY may not be an appropriate way to use resources.  (Urbanski P, Wolf AM, Herman WH. Cost effectiveness issues of diabetes prevention and treatment. Newsflash. 2008;29(1):17-19. Available at