Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Health Could Bust Us; High Cost of Disease Set to Stretch Budgets

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Health Could Bust Us; High Cost of Disease Set to Stretch Budgets

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Hoffman

NEED a compelling argument to get healthy - consider this.

Each hospital bed is costing taxpayers $1 million a year to run.

And the new 450-bed hospital at Kawana will set us back $1.3 billion - more than $2 million a bed.

Unless the health of Queenslanders improves, health economists predict that treatment of those affected by chronic disease will consume the state's total budget by 2040.

The Queensland chief health officer's report - Chronic Disease: The Health of Queenslanders - released late last year, found that 21,663 Queenslanders died from chronic disease in 2006 and 800,000 were hospitalised.

Hospitalisation is increasing at double the rate of population growth and 15% of the population with chronic diseases account for 60% of the health budget.

Studies have found that 31.6% of the burden of disease is caused by 13 preventable factors, with seven out of 10 adults having at least two of the risk factors associated with chronic disease.

The report also found that chronic disease caused 88.2% of premature deaths and ill health and cost more than 60% of all allocated health care expenditure - totalling $30 billion in Australia in 2001.

In Queensland alone, 2.9 million people have long-term chronic conditions, the treatment of which will place an enormous cost burden on all of us.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president-elect Mason Stevenson said the biased focus on bed numbers alone and political point scoring had to shift.

"There needs to be a substantive shift in focus to community health, outpatients, prevention and treatment by GPs," Dr Stevenson said. "Hospitalisation needs to become a medical last- resort option.

"There is a long way to go. More resources need to be poured into community health services."

Dr Stevenson said it had been found that a $1 spent on community health saved between $3 and $4 in hospital costs. …

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