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Billions of dollars could be saved by improving arthritis prevention and care - 15 August 2014


Media Release: 15 August 2014 

Billions of dollars in health care costs in coming years could be saved by improving arthritis prevention and care, according to Arthritis Australia and a report issued by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today.

Key points of the report include:

  • Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions affect 6.1 m people and are the fourth most expensive disease group in Australia, costing $5,690 m a year or 9% of total health care spending in 2008-09
  • Osteoarthritis was the most expensive, accounting for 29% of spending in the category, followed by back problems (21%) and RA (6%)
  • More than half of expenditure for this category (54%)  was for hospital services, mainly joint replacements and arthroscopies for OA
  • Expenditure on arthritis and msk condition is rising faster than expenditure on all chronic diseases at 67% between 2000-01 and 2008-09 cf to 52% for all chronic diseases
  • Expenditure on out of hospital expenses of $1677m (for GPs, specialists) was highest for arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions than for any other disease group (although this comes through a comparison to a different report): however, this cost is likely to be significantly underestimated due to lack of data on private and state/territory funded primary care eg allied health
  • RA accounted for the highest expenditure for prescription pharmaceuticals ($277m) in the category
  • 44% of people with these conditions report limitations in daily activities

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Reviewed and updated August 2014

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