Musculoskeletal Conditions Suck Up Health Dollars
Written by Editor   
Saturday, August 23, 2014 05:56 PM

Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions are Australia's fourth most expensive group of diseases, according to a report by the Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).  In the most recent reporting period, 2008/9, spending totalled $5.69 billion, accounting for 9% of total health-care spending. Only cardiovascular disease, oral health and mental disorders are more expensive, according to the Institute.

Osteoarthritis accounted for 29%, or $1.64 billion, of spending on arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, says Institute spokesperson Louise York.  This was followed by back problems (21% or $1.18 billion), 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 ($3.09 billion), followed by 30% on out-of-hospital medical expenses ($1.68 million) and 16% on prescription pharmaceuticals ($922 million). “Most spending for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis was on pharmaceuticals (77% and 63% respectively). For osteoarthritis, most was spent on admitted patient hospital services (77%) such as joint replacement surgery and arthroscopies.”

The spend on the 65-74 age group was highest at $1,245 million.  “However, spending per person was actually highest for people aged 75-84, at an average of $1,007 per person,” says Ms York.  Overall, spending was higher for women than men, averaging $301 for women compared with $229 for men.