Cardiovascular disease and nervous system disorders make largest claims on health spending

Cardiovascular disease and nervous system disorders are the diseases accounting for the greatest expenditure on health in Australia, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Health System Expenditure on Disease and Injury in Australia, 2000-01 shows that health expenditure estimates, classified by disease or injury group, were highest for cardiovascular diseases at $5.4 billion (or 11% of total allocated health expenditure), somewhat more than money spent on nervous system disorders, at $4.9 billion.

Report author John Goss said that the high level of expenditure for nervous system disorders can be attributed to the large costs of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in aged care homes.

'Total expenditure on the dementias was $2.3 billion in 2000-01. This has grown significantly since our last study in 1993-94 and explains the above average 44% increase in expenditure for nervous system disorders.'

Next in line in the top seven groups for expenditure were musculoskeletal conditions at $4.7 billion (9.6% of total allocated health expenditure), followed by injuries at $4.1 billion (8.3%); respiratory diseases, $3.5 billion (7.2%); oral health, $3.4 billion (6.9%); and mental disorders at $3.0 billion (6.1%).

Together, these seven conditions account for $29 billion, or 59% of allocated health expenditure.

In other figures, John Goss said that per person health expenditure allocated by disease was 24% higher for females, at $2,826, than for males at $2,273.

'When maternal conditions are excluded, expenditure per person for females is still higher than for males by 18%,' he said.

'Females recorded higher expenditure per person for nervous system, musculoskeletal and oral health conditions whereas males accounted for more expenditure for the cardiovascular, cancer and injury groups.'

The report also reflects the fluctuations evident in health expenditure as people age, with males and females following similar patterns through childhood, females' expenditure peaking during peak childbearing years of 25 to 34 then dropping for the 35 to 44 year group, and expenditure for both males and females rising sharply as people age.


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