Bone and muscle problems a big health cost

Gina Rushton
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis and back pain cost the Australian health system more than any other disease, condition or injury, a new report has found.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, released on Wednesday, analysed how $136 billion was spent across the health system in 2018/19 and found musculoskeletal disorders accounted for $14 billion.

The most expensive disease groups for admitted patients in public hospitals were cardiovascular diseases, injury and gastrointestinal disorders.

In private hospitals, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer and other neoplasms, were among the top categories.

Spending on general practitioner services was highest for infectious diseases, mental and substance use disorders, followed by musculoskeletal disorders.

Institute spokesman Adrian Webster said spending on health increases with age. Patients aged five to nine were the lowest spenders and those aged 70 to 74 needed the most care.

“For males, the bulk of spending tends to occur later in life,” Dr Webster said.

“However, spending for females between the ages of 20 to 45 is substantially higher than for males, largely due to spending on birth and reproduction-related conditions.”

The report follows a previous release from the institute which found coronary heart disease, back pain, dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer were the five diseases causing the most burden in 2018.

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