Arthritis is One of Australia's Most Expensive Diseases

By Petrina Smith
Friday, 15 August, 2014

arthritisArthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions are Australia's fourth most expensive group of diseases, according to the newly released report  Health-care expenditure for arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions 2008-09.
The report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that in 2008-09, spending on these diseases totalled $5,690 million, accounting for nine per cent of total health-care spending.
'Osteoarthritis accounted for 29%-or $1,637 million-of spending on arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions,' said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.
This was followed by back problems (21% or $1,177 million), rheumatoid arthritis (6% or $355 million) and osteoporosis (5% or $306 million).
More than half of spending on arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions was on hospital admitted patient services ($3,091 million), followed by 30% on out-of-hospital medical expenses ($1,677 million) and 16% on prescription pharmaceuticals ($922 million).
'Patterns of spending across health-care sectors varied significantly among different musculoskeletal conditions,' Ms York said.
'For example, most spending for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis was on pharmaceuticals (77% and 63% respectively), while for osteoarthritis, most was spent on admitted patient hospital services (77%) such as joint replacement surgery and arthroscopies.'
Overall spending on these conditions also varied by age, and was highest for people in the 65-74 age group ($1,245 million).
'However, spending per person was actually highest for people aged 75-84, at an average of $1,007 per person.'
Overall, spending was higher for females than males, averaging $301 for females compared with $229 for males.
From 2000-01 to 2008-09, total health system spending on arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions rose by 67%. This compares with a total rise of 52% for spending on all chronic diseases. Over the same period, the proportion of total expenditure on diseases spent on musculoskeletal conditions remained stable, at around 9%.
'About 6.1 million people (28% of the total population) were affected by musculoskeletal conditions in 2011-12,' Ms York said.

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