Cardiovascular diseases top Australian health care spending
Australia spends more on cardiovascular diseases (CVD) than on any other disease group, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, 'Health care expenditure on cardiovascular diseases 2008-09', estimates that $7,605 million was spent on CVD in 2008-09, 12 per cent of all health care expenditure in Australia.
AIHW spokesperson Lisa McGlynn explained: "CVD has the highest expenditure of any disease group in Australia, ranking it ahead of oral health, mental disorders, musculoskeletal conditions, injuries and neoplasms (cancers) - the next most costly disease groups."
Coronary heart disease was the most expensive cardiovascular disease, accounting for over one-quarter of CVD spending ($2,028 million) in 2008-09, followed by stroke ($606 million).
The remaining $4,971 million was spent on other CVDs such as heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, rheumaticheart disease and hypertensive heart disease.
The presence of CVD is related to age. Among elderly people it is both more common and more expensive to treat, which puts upward pressure on expenditure in an ageing population such as Australia's.
The highest level of overall expenditure was for people aged 75-84 ($2,015 million) followed by those aged 65-74 ($1,908 million). Expenditure was less ($820 million) for those aged 85 and over which reflects the smaller numbers of people in this age group.
Overall 'per person' expenditure on CVD was $352 in 2008-09, with more spent on males ($397 per person) than on females ($309). Per person spending was relatively low and similar for males and females until age 35-44, after which it was higher for men than women in all age groups.
'Per person spending was greatest for people aged 85 and over for both men and women, at $2,776 and $2,020 respectively,' said McGlynn.
Hospital admitted patient services was the health-care sector that accounted for the majority (59 per cent) of CVD spending at about $4,460 million in 2008-09. This was followed by prescription pharmaceuticals ($1,648 million; 22 per cent) and out-of-hospital medical expenses ($1,497 million; 20 per cent).
The average cost of a hospitalisation for CVD was $9,982 for males and $8,634 for females. Overall, those aged 75-84 had the highest average cost of a hospitalisation with CVD ($10,750).
The biggest increase in annual CVD health care expenditure from 2000-01 to 2008-09 was for hospital admitted patient services, which increased by 55 per cent from $2,907 million to $4,518 million.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.