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People with MS spend over 20% of income on healthcare

10 April, 2007

The cost of living with MS or similar conditions is high, and in some cases is an overwhelming burden.

Quite apart from the difficulties in coping with the health effects of a chronic illness, the financial burden is a dimension of life that is often overlooked by policymakers and the wider community.

The Chronic Illness Alliance has released preliminary findings from its survey on the cost of living with a chronic illness. The survey covered people with MS and their families as well as other conditions that result in health and financial burdens.

A recent study was taken out in Victorian, which took in more than 1600 respondents.

The study quotes a person with MS earning $250 per week who spends $53, (21% of their income) on healthcare.

The study is the most extensive done so far in Victoria, and highlighted many issues about how individuals and families cope with the financial burden and what they thought of the level of Government assistance programs.

Highlights from the Study include:

66% of people reported that changes to the tax and welfare system including the GST had had a negative effect on their household finances.

- 10% of households spent $130 per month on non PBS medicines.

- Households spent between $5 and $1000 on GP visits in the last 6 months, and in the same period spent between $45 and $1000 on specialist visits.

- 41% of households surveyed had a gross annual income of $26,000 or less, 31% earned less that $52,000 and 21% earned more than $52,000.

- Cost of transport to illness to illness related appointments is a major area of concern.

Further analysis is being done on the data. The CIA is presenting this information to the Federal Government through the Minister for Health, Senator Kay Patterson, as well as Senate Committee on Medicare.

MS Australia is a member of the Chronic Illness Alliance, and supports the efforts to highlight the cost of living with chronic illness and disability. With issues like the future of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, reform of the Disability Support Pension and Superannuation being in the public arena, it is essential that people living with MS and other chronic illnesses are heard in the debate.

After all, changes to these important programs have huge impacts on people who depend on them for their independence in the community. 

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