TB detection guidelines save U.S. taxpayers $15 million

Tuberculosis screening guidelines established overseas by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have saved U.S. tax payers an estimated $15 million in medical costs by improving TB detection among refugees and immigrants.

The CDC guidelines were adopted to detect and treat TB in refugees and immigrants before their arrival in the U.S. The most recent data, from 2012, showed that physicians found more than 1,100 cases of TB, including 14 cases of multidrug-resistant TB. It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of the cases detected would not have been detected before coming to the U.S.

Had the 2012 cases not been detected, it is estimated that they would have cost U.S. taxpayers $15 million to treat after the refugees and immigrants arrived in the U.S., as the majority of those costs would have been paid for through U.S. public health offices and federal funding.

"This program has been one of the largest and most successful interventions in U.S. tuberculosis control during the past decade," Director of CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine Martin Cetron said. "In addition to creating major savings in health care costs, is the program ensures that immigrants and refugees get prompt care and correct treatment, which is vital to their health, the health of their loved ones, and the U.S. communities where they settle."